Metro Market challenges local integrity

BY CALL US KATH*RINE (KATIE EDER, SYDNEY WIDELL —

If for some reason you missed the construction or the countless Ripples articles we’ve published over the past 12 months covering the project, it would still have been clear that a significant cultural change had taken place in our village the day Metro Market opened its doors. After months of nervous waiting and peering through shrouded windows as the building went up, the winds of change were finally blowing as community members flocked in awe to the opening day of Metro Market.

That very first day, the school, as well as the community as a whole, was electrified by this new force that had opened its doors and offered up to us all the temptations and enticements of a new era. It was like tearing off the paper of a perfectly wrapped birthday gift. The green ribbon was cast off, and all the glories of the new supermarket were, at last, revealed. The fluorescent lights, the swarms of people, and the samples at every turn; it all seemed to transport us back to a simpler time when the opening of a new grocery store could bring more excitement then the release of a new iPhone.

Upon entering Metro Market for the first time, we were at once greeted by a flood of fellow students who here to experience the novelty for themselves and, weirdly, it was uniting. When we returned to school, the entire campus was eager to share their opinions or even their fresh 80¢ donuts. Metro market even crept its way into class discussions.

But this new sense of community was not limited to students. On the day that it opened, it seemed like the entire population of Shorewood had tuned out to do their grocery shopping. Neighbors spoke as they waited to redeem their complimentary gelato or exchanged greetings over the trail mix bar. People who didn’t even know each other at all were suddenly finding ways to connect.

Part of what facilitates this communalism is Metro Market’s open planned food court style first floor, where shoppers can enjoy any of the prepared food options–and there are many–in a sunny seating space within optimal proximity to the wine and oyster bars, and where they may dine on their fresh steak to the strains of live piano music.

metromarket
(Ben Davis)

It is elements like this that make Metro Market so much more than a grocery store. Though the food may only be average, it is about the sizzle, not the steak. Shopping there is not meant to be a chore, but rather a luxury. This is a place to unwind, to gather and to unite. But how much of a luxury is it actually? When we shop at Metro Market, are we undermining the basic principles that the Shorewood community values?

Metro Market was advertised as convenient. We would have a huge grocery store stocked with every food we could imagine, sourced from every corner of the world. But walking into the store is anything but convenient. If you go in to grab lunch or to get a juice on the way to school or work, your only option is small door on Oakland Avenue, only big enough to fit a couple people through at time. You try to enter Metro market, but instead of gliding in, you wait in line for two minutes outside of the building.

Although the attraction of bringing new people into Shorewood from the city and other villages is often cast as a positive, the car traffic it is causing makes it hard to travel around our village safely. Whether you are driving, walking, or biking, this new traffic will cause you great struggle. Kenmore, an otherwise quiet road, has become as busy as Capital and Oakland used to be. And now, Capitol and Oakland have become a constant traffic jam from people trying to exit and enter the parking structure by Metro Market.

The parking structure itself only houses space for a few hundred cars. Although this may seem like a lot, the reality is, more people will be shopping at this store then there are spaces for them to park. People are overflowing into street parking and Walgreens parking, which stops others from visiting those stores. In addition, the trucks that service metro market from Kenmore are simply too big for the residential street.

We are a one-square-mile village. We pride ourselves on our close-knit community. But this store, this metropolitan grocery store, is bombarding us with urban style living.

There is a twisted sort of irony to this. Behind its glossy exterior, Metro Market is really just a grownup Pick n’ Save.  Both are owned by the supermarket giant Kroger, which is headquartered in Cincinnati. While other area grocery options may not offer local produce, they at least provide consumers with the satisfaction of supporting a local business, which, in Shorewood, has always been a point of pride.

To its credit, Metro Market has made an attempt to incorporate itself into our small town, by making a goal to hire much of our student body. Many students have been hired to stock shelves, make juice, and direct people through the store. Either you are working at Metro Mart, one of your friends is, or the person sitting behind you in English class is.

But despite its best efforts to reach out into the village, Metro Market is, at its core, a corporate enterprise. We don’t think Metro Market is fooling anyone, and in a similar way, we are not victims of any corporate deception. By making the decision to shop at Metro Market, we are participating in an elaborate double deception. Metro Market is masquerading as a local business, and we, the consumers, are pretending to believe it.

The Metro Market is opening many doors for our community. It is giving us a place to spend time with friends and shop. However, as we continue to appreciate the glitz and glam of the new store, we must make a conscious effort to maintain our values and appreciate our local atmosphere. Shorewood has always been a place where community has come first. We must make sure, even with the new developments and increased traffic that Metro Market has brought, we uphold our authenticity and integrity as a small community.

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