A peek at the new Honest Weight store

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The new location is a little less than a mile from the current location on Central Ave.

The long-planned new Honest Weight Food co-op location on Watervliet Ave in Albany is slated for a soft open on June 19, with a formal grand opening scheduled for August 8. Honest Weight marketing manager Jennifer Grainer says construction has been on time and is expected to come in under budget, at around $5.5 million.

With just over a month to go before the opening, we got a quick tour of the building, which includes a full commercial kitchen for catering, a station for smoking meats, and a teaching kitchen for classes.

Here's a look at how it's shaping up.

The new 30,000 square-foot space feels open and airy -- but pretty soon, Grainer says, the shelves will be well stocked.

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In the produce area, customers will be able to grind their own peanut butter and draw maple syrup from kegs.

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The space includes an expanded meat and seafood counter.

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There's also a larger cheese section.

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Among the new additions is a commercial kitchen, which Grainer says will allow Honest Weight to do a lot of catering. Currently it does small orders by special request.

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There's a new smoker for meats and sausages.

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And a new deli counter that will allow for more prepared foods.

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Up front there's a teaching kitchen where the plan is to have chefs hold classes on everything from gluten free cooking to vegan cheese making.

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The new cafe will seat up to 40 people at a time. Silver Fox Salvage is making the tables.

The space also includes a larger community room and a room for yoga, reiki, massage therapists and other holistic arts.

One of the things Grainer is most excited about has yet to arrive. "The new shopping carts," she laughs. "They're kind of space age looking. There are no metal parts and they can turn on a dime."

Yep, Honest Weight advertises on AOA.

Find It

Honest Weight Food Co-op new location
Watervliet Ave and Commerce Ave
Albany, NY 12206

Comments

I, for one, am thrilled! This is easier to get to for out-of-town shoppers, bigger for all the peoples and it's beautiful. Well done Honest Weight. You are a true asset to our Capital Region, not just Albany.

I hope the new location does not mean significantly increased prices in the future. I recall there was a nice health food store in the Syracuse area which I used to like to go to years ago. It was kind of a gritty store in a small location but had good stuff at relatively good prices. One day, they moved to a much nicer location in a better part of town. However, the new store was far more expensive for the same stuff and even had somewhat less selection. I really hope something like that doesn't happen with Honest Weight.

It would have been more neighborly to locate downtown, so people/families/children in Arbor Hill and the South End would have access to wholesome, local food.

You had me at expanded cheese section. Can't wait!

The new store looks great, although I'm disappointed that the HWFC is moving further away from the city where fresh, organic food is most needed. Ultimately it would be great to see a satellite location in the city. Maybe an "HWFC Express".

I'll really miss the co-op when they move to this location.

Hey AOA Recon, any sign (or word) of bicycle parking amenities? (I mean, all I need is a traffic sign or a well placed piece of railing, but one can hope for something more.) Thanks!

My husband and I moved north from Averill Park to a place near the Canadian border in 2005 and I've never missed anything so much as I miss The Honest Weight. My mom and I drove down in May of 2012 and I had planned on stopping before we left as part of a two to three day stay - we even brought a cooler in case either of us wanted to get something that required chilling or freezing. I couldn't believe how the place had grown since I had last been there .. a couple hours and more than a few shopping bags later, we hit the Thruway and headed back north with a little sigh of happiness. I love the new location (parking looks a helluva lot easier than the old location) and am so sorry we're not still there to enjoy it. I look forward to coming through again sometime, and wish the support for such places was as great up here as it obviously is down there.

It's too bad that HWFC (of which I'm a member) decided not to use union labor for the project, in what's a clear betrayal of its fair trade principles. See the article at: http://www.albany.edu/uup/pdfs/April_May2013_Forum.pdf (page 5).

Thanks so much for posting these pictures. I've been watching it being built every day when I drive by on my way home from work. I can't wait to check it out when they open.

I'm thrilled with the expansion, the promise of better parking and the new location.

Barry, it is unfortunate that you didn't do your homework before spewing off recycled lies. I too am a member with union ties, and the majority of work performed on this project did in fact go to union jobs. Your accusations to the contrary are unfounded. Another tidbit that came to light in a communication to members was that most of the jobs that didn't go union were from trades that didn't bid on the jobs.

I love that it will have an expanded cafe area. This will be a great area to hang out. Whole Foods has nice cafes in its stores, and I always like the usefulness and ambiance of them.

I never had a problem parking at the old location whenever I did bring a car. The old location was easily accessible by bus or walking which I greatly preferred. The 125 bus does go by the co op but the new site doesn't seem as accessible for pedestrians. The new location is one of the reasons I have not become a member of honest weight because I think making their market less accessible for bicycles, pedestrians and those taking public transit significantly diminishes any mission they have towards sustainability. You can buy organic produce all you want but you are not helping the environment any by driving your car to do it.

I'll more likely buy food from the new marketplace in Troy that the owners of the wine bar are developing. They picked a location in a city that is easily accessible by a variety of modes.

Eh whatever. I'm not excited about this new store that I'm sure was made possible in part by their massive mark-ups which make HWFC completely unaffordable.

For me the most valuable and exciting aspect of the new store is the teaching kitchen and community room. Hopefully that will be the heart of the new store and where the co-op can differentiate itself from Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market and all the other competitors now selling natural food.

I am really excited about the new store and location. For me, it's definitely going to be easier to access. I'm so glad a local store is going to be competing with the bigger regional and national chains. The convenience of the new location and their ability to expand their offerings is going to go a long way to making HWFC my primary grocery store.

Please tell me where further into the city there is an affordable site sized for a grocery store of this size. Maybe you would have preferred they tear down a church like Price Chopper? The new store is ridiculously close to the old store - less than a mile away! And there are sidewalks from Central all the way to the new store.

I'm disappointed that the HWFC is moving further away from the city where fresh, organic food is most needed

Many people here remember the sad fate of Troy food co-op.
You can't blame HWFC for moving closer to their main customer group.

I was a working member on Quail many moons ago and I'm down with the other downers.

While I applauded the move to Central, I feel this is a big step in the wrong direction. I don't see the pedestrian access, and I see a move toward whiteness. Sorry but that's how it looks to me.

@Lauren - So you're knocking the sustainability of HWFC because they moved to a location one or two blocks off of Central Avenue. Your response is to drive to Troy?


End of the day, HWFC needs to adapt to survive. The long-term future of the organization is already at risk as it has taken way too long to execute on building the new store. Some may find it distressing that they are moving towards "whiteness" (which is a bizarre POV, as the makeup of the shoppers at the present location isn't reflective of the neighborhood), but you need to empower your customer base to patronize your store.

You're not just competing with Price Chopper's business model of pricing gamesmanship or Hannaford's general clueless-ness. Whole Foods & Trader Joe's are here -- both companies are extremely smart and good at execution. Whole Foods in particular will offer products that HWFC shoppers want, minus the left-wing political overhead that slows down decision-making.

Suicide, pure and simple. Even the workers know it.

You simply can't try and compete with the big boys without being at least a bit innovative.

Instead, they built a Whole Foods *Lite.

Sadly, co-ops in every major city have tried and failed to do this, and it's sobering and sad that HWFC would take such a foolish path.

The facade/entrance of the building doesn't even face the street! Unreal negligence on every level. They were clearly following the Whole Foods model: teaching kitchens, a large cafe', expanded catering facility...however, people want what they want and that is brand identification.

Trader Joe's will remain jam-packed, so will Whole Foods. There are now FIVE Shop-Rite stores.

And all along the way, the sleepy lil' co-op we came to love and visit became just like everything else.

A panic move by HWFC and, sadly, their coda.

@Brian

Why do you assume that I will be driving to Troy?

Its short-sighted to move to a less bike/ped/transit location. The other chains are going to respond to growing population and (slowly) rising residency rates in our cities and the HWFC will not be able to compete. It may be 5-10 years until that happens but they may want to start a new capital fund now for when they inevitably will move again to follow what the larger chains are doing. They should have been a leader in this.

I concur with Lauren - moving to a remote location with respect to downtown Albany and Center Square is exactly the wrong decision for an organization supposedly committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Food co-ops should be - and in many cities are - more than just alternatives to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. They should be integral parts of their communities, resources that offer education and connection as well as products that are responsibly farmed or produced. Placing Honest Weight out in the middle of nowhere and expecting it to serve the population of not only Albany but also Schenectady, Troy and other far-flung places dilutes its engagement with existing customers as it seeks to attract new ones who would be presumably be driving from miles around to the new location in what is, from what I understand, some sort of warehouse district.

I choose not to drive unless I rent a car to get somewhere relatively distant that isn't well-served by public transportation, like SPAC or the Tanglewood Festival. I've been shopping fairly regularly at Honest Weight since I arrived in Albany three years ago, but I'm afraid that won't continue in the new location, and I suspect the same will be true for many others. (Of course, this seems to be a larger problem in this region - instead of locating where they should logically be, downtown, many retail businesses in particular choose to pitch their tents out on Wolf Road or even further out. It's one thing to have a flagship downtown and other locations out in regional malls, as is true in most major cities, and quite another to be required to travel to a landscape of strip malls and chain restaurants to shop at a department store.) Let's hope the co-op decides, as Jason suggested above, to open some sort of satellite in Center Square or downtown.

By and large, I support this move and think folks need to put things into prospective. It is nearly impossible to completely preserve every mission the COOP stands for as it matures its responsibilities to the community. Additionally, I think folks have to come to terms that in the present location, the COOP isn’t holding true to every mission folks would like to paint upon it, due to the constant compromises the COOP has to make to its evolving memberships. We all have to make compromises in our life, for example as it relates to how to best protect the environment or help those in need in our community, and the COOP is no different, especially since it’s managed democratically through its membership. For me personally, I make the compromise of accepting that the membership is increasingly more willing to allow meat in the store, far more destructive to the environment (let alone to the animals themselves) than can be made up by a Center Square resident taking the bus to chow on a burger for dinner. We all will have to make these choices, but ultimately, I still come back to the COOP because it’s overall set of missions do far greater good than the competitors.

For example, folks on this blog complain on one hand about the move away from sustainability (because you have to walk three blocks off of the bus line at Central to the new store, rather than one block down from Partridge at the current location and thus may need to rely on a car), but at the same time beg the COOP to do more for minority communities, which the new location does, by placing the COOP deeper into Albany’s socio-economically depressed neighborhoods (West Hill, specifically) and help provide relief to a food desert. No matter where the store is placed, some communities will gain by enhanced access via bus, while others may need to resort to driving due to the distance or travel time required by bus (or number of transfers involved). Move the store to the economically depressed South End, but you have folks uptown screaming they need to take two or three transfers to get to it, thus they give up and go by car. Move the store to the walkable and dense Delaware Ave neighborhood, but you have folks in the northern half of Albany complaining about the distance and cost to get to. As a member, I have thought the scenarios out and don’t envy the management and how it had to come to an ultimate call and location, holding true to as many mission statements as possible.

I totally don't understand the comments about the location being unfriendly to pedestrians, public transit and bicycles. It is very close to the current location, and it's not as though that location is in the heart of the city. I work two blocks from the new location. I walk to work. There are sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian lights the entire way there. I ride my bike to work - no problems there, nothing like Washington Ave Extension to deal with. I take the bus - there is a bus that stops directly in front of the new co-op, there are two other buses that stop a block away, and it is 3 blocks from Central Ave - BusPlus stop is right at the top of the street. Plus, it is right across from the CDTA bus pass office where lots of regular & STAR riders get their passes.

As for it being not "in the city" - it's not downtown, but the location is certainly in one of the lowest income areas of the city. That the location is near the highway is an added benefit.

WOW...Debbie Downers...Turn those frowns upside down, please!!! What a marvelous store...thanks to everyone that put so much effort into creating it...Susan, I agree the current location IS in a low income area(think aerial view)...the folks in those neighborhoods, unfortunately, are not the coops primary customers...sounds like people feel they will be priced out but, guess what, the store is not even open yet so CHILL OUT...it appears to me that the the coop mgt methodically planned out this move and i seriously doubt there will be any significant increase in prices...

so, lets embrace this new building, remain positive, and enjoy all that it has to offer...and lets certainly not call this move it's demise...WOW, i just do not understand people sometimes!!!

I agree that this is a bad move for HWFC. Poor location in terms of mass transportation - very car centric, huge ugly big box store, and serious financial debt, with the attitute that HWFC is somehow superior or different from any other retail store that sells organic, etc. products just because it has "membership" a teaching kitchen and community area. At what cost? What is the increase in the energy bill in this enormous new space? Prices have already started to increase and whether or not it gets worse remains to be seen. Sadly, they also want to increase their sales of meat and fish and their reasoning is solely to boost their bottom line. Among those that are in favor of this, there appears to be very little real concern about animals. They seem to just want to be the "go to" place for so-called organic and traceable animal products. I applaud the vegan members who are opposed to this. Yes, HWFC IS a business and they have to do whatever they can to be a success, but can't they look to increase sales of bulk or produce, rather than meat and fish - the least healthful, and most notorious for cruelty and slaughter? Yes, they already sell meat and fish, but the huge move among many members to drastically increase this practice is astounding.

The promotion of veganism or even vegetarianism as a way to end the cruel animal product industries (Including the organic and "traceable" ones which are only a step above factory farms and slaughterhouses) is unfortunately given lip service at HWFC, while the increase in the consumption of animal products, including cheese (the dairy industry, including the "organic" dairy industry the worst of all in terms of cruelty) and the environmental consequences associated with that consumption are encouraged - they NEED you to buy their animal products to stay in business, so they CAN'T be a voice for animals. Sure, they have a teaching kitchen where one item on the curriculum is vegan cooking (lip service again), while at the same time, they are very actively looking to increase animal product sales. How about an equally large increase in the promotion of vegan products?

I noticed in the pictures on the Times Union website that the new registers seem to have paper bags a la Trader Joes. Does this mean the use of boxes and reused plastic bags is no longer a policy for the store?

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