Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Organic Bodega Opening on Franklin?

The Yafaa Money Market, a nondescript 24-hour-grocery on Franklin between Prospect and Park, has been undergoing a thorough renovation over the last few months, and as of yesterday, has become the Franklin Mini Market, complete with a shiny new sign. Though at first glance their new look seems consistent with the latest trends in bodega signage (e.g. the Brooklyn Deli a few doors down), a closer look reveals that they will now be stocking "organic food." Bloggers, to your keyboards!

Local reporters from the Observer and NostrandPark have tackled the bodega-renovation-as-harbinger-of-gentrification issue before, with Nostrand Park touching on it just yesterday. Unlike arriving restauranteurs, whose new-look establishments were cited as a major force in today's neighborhood change by the Brooklyn Paper (see yesterday's post), these grocers have been in the area a long time, and their decision to renovate (in the midst of what is still a recession) seems calibrated to meet the needs and expectations of newcomers. As Laurel from NostrandPark points out in her post, these changes, though largely welcome, reinforce problematic stereotypes about "who used to live here" vs. "who's living here now." As she writes, "it’s frustrating that the owner[s] didn’t realize sooner that the residents of this neighborhood deserved better."

To my mind, the biggest issue hinges not on the look of these new stores but the attitudes of their staff. "Organic Food" notwithstanding, I doubt the bulk of the goods stocked at the Franklin Mini Market will be considerably different from those the Yafaa Money Market once carried. That said, Nam's Green Market at St. John's has made a concerted effort to remake itself as an "organic" grocery, and in the process has occasionally alienated longtime locals with higher prices and perceived slights on account of them. As for the Franklin Mini Market, we'll have to see once they're open what "organic" entails, both for their shelves and for their patrons.

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