Could Fairway’s ambitious expansion plans backfire in the Upper West Side grocer’s own backyard? The grocer has dominated West 74th Street for six decades, but Crain’s seems to think that reign could be over.
A little over a month ago, Trader Joe’s opened up a new store two blocks down on Broadway. “It had an impact,” Howard Glickman, Fairway’s CEO, told the business weekly. “We saw a little downturn in a few departments, but we aren’t changing anything about the way we operate.” A supermarket analyst said he thought the store could be losing up to 10 percent of its profits, though another thought the quality at Fairway is superior, and once that new grocery smell wears off, the appeal will, too, and it will simply become a matter of preference and convenience.
Still, what would the Upper West Side be without Fairway? Imagine a Lower East Side without Russ & Daughters or Soho without Gourmet Garage. Yet as Fairway, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and their ilk continue citywide campaigns, the competition may continue to heat up. Maybe grocery stores will be the new bank branches, opening on every corner in the city. Granted in some neighborhoods, that would actually be great news.