While eating my lunch today, I was looking at my collecting links when a theme popped out at me (with at least 3 items): Replacement. All of these items have to do with some entity passing away, and pondering the effect of its replacement. Let’s jump in….
- Streit’s Matzah. When I was growing up and Pesach came around, we would buy these 5 lb bundles of matzah, usually Manaschevitz or Streits. Today, it is mostly Israeli matzah (at least in the markets I frequent). Our global economy has made it cheaper to make Matzah elsewhere and ship, I suppose. This week’s news brought the issue upfront, when the Forward reported on the closing of the last major matzah factory on the Lower East Side. Streit’s was faced with increased foreign competition, and the increased value of real estate in NYC. They’ve sold the land to a developer, and hope to reopen somewhere else. The Forward also has an analysis of why this closure is so significant: it reflects yet another nail in the coffin of the lower east side’s Jewish nature. Just as in Los Angeles, NYC is facing the movement of the Jews out of traditionally Jewish areas.
- Los Angeles Times. It is not only New York that is seeing iconic structures facing redevelopment. Tribune Media just announced they will be redeveloping the historic Los Angeles Times building in downtown LA. They don’t give many details, other than “The Times Mirror Square master plan promises to deliver a compelling urban project that includes the restoration of important buildings and the construction of complementary new buildings around a new Metro rail station directly connected to four of the region’s major rail lines”. This seems to imply they will keep the historic buildings, but the form is unclear. One wonders if the Herald Examiner will outlive the LA Times, at least in terms of buildings. LA Observed has some interesting observations on the redevelopment.
- Supermarket Transformations. A little article in the Simi Valley Acorn caught my eye: Supermarket Chain to acquire Vons, Albertsons. Investigating the article further, I discovered that Albertsons (which, if you follow these things, was the parent to Lucky (in Southern California)) and Safeway (parent to Vons) are merging. As part of the conditions of merger, they were required to divest a large number of stores; 146 of which are going to the Pacific Northwest chain Haggen. As a result, stores will be changing all over, with quite a few in Ventura County and Santa Clarita. Here’s a complete list of Vons/Safeway and Albertsons stores that are changing. Haggen will be a culture shock for Vons/Albertsons shoppers. Vons, Safeway, and Albertsons are traditional supermarkets. Here are some descriptions of Haggens that I found: Haggen stores are similar to Whole Foods when it comes to products and are “small enough to be very nimble and responsive to each store’s customers”. Offering local products is at the heart of the company. The chain has been committed to local sourcing, investing in the communities we serve, and providing genuine service and homemade quality. Contrast this with the beheamoth that is Safeway, and you can see the culture shock. Regulatory approvals are pending, but things could change in the next 6 months. The only valley store that is changing looks to be the Vons in Woodland Hills and Albertsons in Tujunga and Burbank.
- Dead Malls. Some things just die and linger on. A great example are dead malls. Retailing is changing, and the large indoor shopping space anchored by department stores is fading away, primarily because department stores are fading away. There are loads of these beached whales out there, and the NY Times did an article looking at the economics of dead malls. If you have one near you, given current trends, it will either become a big box destination, mixed use (residential/shops), an office building, or a parking lot.