LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Lament for a Grocery Store

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Waterland Blog nor its staff:]

Moving to Des Moines many years ago was a multi-level attraction to my wife, Marianne and I as we travelled into the little Cape Cod like village on the sound. We arrived quite by accident trying to wend our way to Tacoma and had no idea that a city named “Des Moines” even existed outside of Iowa. Because I grew up and went to school in Sagamore and Wareham Massachusetts (Cape Cod to you) the sight and feel of Des Moines attracted me especially. We almost immediately agreed to, someday, live here.

This was more than an emotional mind set; there were many aspects of the way Des Moines was laid out, with a grocery store at both ends, and many small businesses, a doughnut shop, bakery, and a few restaurants that looked like they had been moved here from back east. A drug store and schools nearby added to the attraction but the potential for retirement was also a consideration for us. It took a few years as we became accustomed to civilian life, having retired from the US Air Force and saving enough to own a home, but we made it. A beautiful home in Huntington Park in Des Moines captured our hearts and here we are!

Surrounded by new friends and neighbors, we soon began shopping in Johnny’s Market and Albertsons at the other end. Johnny’s was the friendliest place to shop and even had people remember your name; it was like we experienced back east.

Well, Johnny’s is now a distant but fond memory, Albertson’s forgotten and now we are faced with a gigantic and critical loss to us and the city of Des Moines; QFC is evacuating! Is there no way or means that our city council members could have foreseen and prepared with some replacement for this major element to a small city such as ours? For this to have been allowed to happen can only point to one sad element that few of us want to believe and that element is likely some form of greed.

Our councilmembers, some of them friends and some are even our neighbors can not wish to do us any harm or deprive us of the small luxury of a grocery store, now, can they!? The answer to this will be your personal evaluation and response but I have a challenge to present o our illustrious “City Fathers”:

My dear friends of the City Council of our beloved City of Des Moines park your car at your home and walk to the nearest grocery store. Take your time and maybe a back pack, remembering that it is only one mile away; you may also need to take your umbrella. At the end of the day when you are back in town, approach one or two people who are on walkers, with canes or on one of those mobility scooters; smile benevolently and introduce yourself as a council member and with a friendly smile point to the direction of the grocery store “only one mile away”; now take your conscience and go, proudly home and live with yourself! Really?

– Pat Nardo
Proud Resident of Des Moines

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll most likely publish it.]


7 Responses to “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Lament for a Grocery Store”
  1. nanooknw says:

    I totally agree with you. How can this just happen without anyone knowing? Even after it was leaked in the Waterland Blog it was kept quiet. No one wanted to talk about this for some reason.
    This affected the lives of many people in our city- the elderly in particular.

    This was kept quiet and swept under the rug- It is a big deal- a big Joe Biden type deal!

  2. Dave Kaplan says:

    Since people keep asking about trying to keep the QFC store in the Marina District, I thought I’d outline the situation for you …

    Yes, it’s sad that QFC is closing, but we’ve been lucky to have them for as long as we have.

    Here’s the deal on QFC: The store is too old, the space too small and the new rent is too high for QFC to stay there. That comes from QFC/Kroger, the owners of the store, and has been shared in various public venues.

    Now a little background: the property on which the building sits is split between two owners (one local, one back east.) The original 50-year lease is held by Albertson’s (the original leaseholder), and it expires in late summer or early fall. They have no interest in renewing a lease for a competitor (Kroger/QFC.)

    Kroger/QFC intended to shut the store down 15 years ago, just after Kroger bought QFC. However, because they had to close the store at Midway (Pac Hwy and Kent-DM Rd), they kept the Marina District store open so as not to impact the community by closing two stores at the same time. We’ve been lucky to have had them this long

    As for the future use of that property, it’s up to the two property owners to get together and decide on what to do (redevelopment being the most likely option.) The City would strongly support inclusion of a new, larger and more modern grocery store in any redevelopment … though there is no guarantee that the property owners will include one. We will do everything we can to encourage inclusion of a grocery store in whatever happens on that property.

    Lastly, to imply that the City Council knew about this in advance is crazy talk. Private property owners are not obligated to tell us when they raise their rents. Private business owners are not obligated to tell us when they choose not to renew a lease. I personally found out after I heard from a few constituents who shop there, and they heard only because the great employees there had received notice from the company!

    Instead of relying on or spreading rumors and innuendo that is unproductive, people can either contact their City Councilmembers directly, or better yet contact QFC/Kroger directly and they’ll tell you why they’re shutting down. If you want to know what will happen on that block, contact the two property owners and ask, or contact the City to find out if anything has been submitted or suggested. Either way, don’t rely on third hand and negative guesswork.

    Dave Kaplan
    Mayor & Councilmember
    City of Des Moines, WA

    • Dan Sherman says:

      The events unfolding at the “QFC property” are exactly what the city (and Mayor Kaplan) intended when they rezoned the downtown 2 years ago. The QFC property was targeted for the highest density and building height with the hope that it would redevelop quickly. The owners apparently accepted that inducement and are no longer satisfied with the profits from the QFC lease believing that they can gain more from a different equation. Why isn’t the city taking credit for this in their talking points?

  3. Pat NArdo says:

    While I stand in support of Mayor Kaplan, I do find it unbelievable that some heard “rumors and innuendos” while no one on our council did. As one private citizen, I will take the Mayor’s word but also respect the response given by former councilman Dan Sherman. The point here is now moot. What I would like to see along with many of my friends and neighbors, as well, is a huge amount of encouragement from our elected officials toward the establishment of a newer, larger grocery store where we think one belongs…in Des Moines, not one mile away! Somewhere, down the line, I strongly believe that greed is sitting beside someone and not our officials. This being a free country, our council should not take offence as we speak our minds, even if we are not as fully informed as they think we should be. We had one mayor who detested opposing thoughts. Having a grocery store in town should never be a matter of “luck”!

    • Abby Wammer says:

      Thank you Pat! I appreciate how well versed you are in your emails stating how many of us felt and are still feeling with the loss and emptiness of QFC.

      It’s strange to drive out or into Des Moines and be greeted with what used to be a hub, now deserted. When we bought our home in Des Moines we did so because we could walk everywhere. As parents with school age children, we set examples to our children by supporting our local businesses. We shopped at QFC, even though it might have cost a little more, because we wanted to be sure to keep our grocery store in our town and accessible.

      We have all felt the loss of our community grocery store. It’s imperative to bring a grocery store back into our town. As residents of Des Moines we pride ourselves on being able to walk everywhere. It’s a lifestyle! We also need to continue supporting our local businesses and choose local first.

      Thanks again Pat!

  4. Kevin says:

    I agree with Dan, this is exactly what the City Council wanted. If you are looking for the “greed” behind this, you do not have to look any further than the current land owner(s) and Kroger.

  5. Pat NArdo says:

    Looking for greed and blame is not , nor should it be the focus here. Our little town needs a grocer, drug store, post office and many small businesses to attract visitors, who like me, fall in love with Des Moines and stay. We need more travelers to stop here on their way through because of our attractiveness. Our council can not do everything for us and there is the issue of us not having a small Chamber of Commerce as once existed to do the business of inviting newcomers.

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