After nine months of renovations and intense neighborhood debate, Whole Foods Market opened its Jamaica Plain store yesterday, two days ahead of schedule and hours before a group of around two dozen protesters rallied outside the supermarket last night.
The store in Hyde Square spans more than 13,700 square feet and has hired 104 full- and part-time workers. Yesterday evening, the parking lot and store were well populated with cars and shoppers.
The arrival of Whole Foods in a building on Centre Street that replaced Hi-Lo Foods, a venerable neighborhood store, has been a hot topic in Jamaica Plain since January. A group opposed to the new supermarket, Whose Foods? Coalition, protested outside Whole Foods last night and called on the store to help fund affordable housing and youth programs in Jamaica Plain and provide support to local businesses.
Chanting and waving signs, decked in Halloween costumes, the protesters said they have no plans to back down on their demands even though the store is already open for business. Last night, group members continued to collect signatures for a petition supporting their cause. The coalition estimates it has gathered nearly 400 total signatures.
Company officials last night declined to comment about the protest.
Uniformed police officers stood watch inside the store last night, and others patrolled the sidewalks, both to monitor the protests and to keep an eye out for Halloween treat-and-trickery. By 8 p.m., when the rally was scheduled to wind down, no protest incidents had been reported, police said.
Protesters said they will deliver the petition and any additional signatures received to the store’s manager tomorrow.
Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.