The irony isn’t lost on the residents of Northeast Greensboro attending the Citizens for Economic & Environmental Justice meeting Feb. 27 — while people on this side of town have been courting grocery chains to build a store in their vicinity, rumors are swirling about Trader Joe’s opening a store right near a Harris Teeter and the future site of Whole Foods, and the residents nearby don’t want it.
Neighbors of the Friendly Shopping Center are mobilizing against a rezoning request for a site near the center but not because of the alleged potential for Trader Joe’s, but because they don’t want expanded commercial area in their neighborhood in general. Meanwhile, Northeast residents easily rattle off a list of empty storefronts that could house Trader Joe’s or another grocer in a more accessible location.
“I would like to see Trader Joe’s in a spot that is better for all of Greensboro,” said Tony Davies, who brought up the discussion.
Led by former councilwoman Goldie Wells, CEEJ members decided to send a letter of support to the Friendly Avenue coalition expressing their support for the neighborhood’s right to have a voice in development happening around them. The exact wording of the letter wasn’t determined, though District 1 Councilwoman Diane Bellamy-Small suggested they explicitly say they would welcome a Trader Joe’s in east Greensboro in addition to supporting the residents.
“If they really want to be a good partner to Greensboro there are other very good locations in Greensboro,” said Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann. Councilwomen Yvonne Johnson, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Hoffmann, who were at the meeting, all said they spoke with the developer for the proposed site.
After 14 years of begging for a grocery store to locate in east Greensboro at different sites like Phillips Avenue, Wells said it might be time to consider a one-day boycott of grocery chains. Wells’ suggestion was met with resounding support from the 50 people in attendance.
“If we shut down with our dollars, there would be some action,” Wells said.