Squabbles have been ongoing in the North Berkeley neighborhood surrounding Monterey Market ever since longtime owners Bill and Judy Fujimoto were ousted from the place in 2009. The green grocer — a favorite shopping spot of Alice Waters and Zuni Café owner Judy Rodgers — was taken over by Bill’s brother, Robert Fujimoto, along with several partners, and has recently expanded their selection of offerings beyond produce to include things like cheese, meat, and alcohol. The new owners say they’re only trying to stay competitive with Whole Foods and Andronico’s, as the East Bay Express reports, but a coalition of neighbors calling themselves CHARM (California-Hopkins Affiliation of Residents and Merchants) have put together a petition urging customers only to buy produce from Monterey Market, so as not to cause competition with nearby specialty businesses.
To wit, from the petition:
“The Monterey Market has introduced similar if not some of the exact same products … in order to lure customers away from the other small shops. This practice is hurting the sales of the Country Cheese Coffee Market, Magnani’s (meat), Hopkins Street Bakery, Hopkins Liquor, Freshly Cut (florist), and Mahmoud the Flowerseller.”
The current drama with this petition follows on earlier drama surrounding a PR agent hired by the market who was caught stealing petitions that were on display in these nearby businesses. She later admitted to the crime, saying “her emotions just got the best of her.” The anti-free-market neighbors, however, were livid.
Nevertheless, the squabble doesn’t seem to have hurt Monterey Market’s business — their parking lot is still jammed every weekend. Let’s just hope no one gets hurt when all is said and done in this ’hood.