The notable thing about this new supermarket isn't the what -- it's the where

ideal food basket menands map

From a map created last year -- those green circles represent 1-mile radii around supermarkets.

Word started circulating this week that an Ideal Food Basket supermarket is set to open on Broadway in Menands sometime in the next month. It'll be the first location for the Long Island-based chain, which already has stores downstate, as well as in Connecticut and Massachusetts. [Biz Review]

We'd never heard of Ideal Food Basket, and after some poking around -- and admittedly without stepping into one -- we get the impression it's a pretty average "neighborhood" style supermarket, maybe with slant toward being a discount market. The thing that did stand out, though: Where it's decided to set up here.

The Ideal Food Basket is going in to the former Save-A-Lot space at 100 Broadway in Menands. That spot is notable because it's located near areas in North Albany and Arbor Hill that are designated as "food deserts" by the federal government. What's that mean? Well, in the simplest sense, it means there isn't a supermarket within a 1-mile (or half-mile) radius of those neighborhoods (the whole definition is a bit more involved). A map we created last year about Capital Region supermarket geographic distribution might make it clearer.

The chain's parent organization has apparently decided to focus in part on opening stores in such areas. Said the company's CEO to the Times Union: "We get into areas where most organizations don't go into ... We go into underserved areas. We hire only from the neighborhood." Just this past month it opened a store in Nassau County on Long Island that was hailed as bringing a supermarket to an area with a "critical food-access issue." [TU] [Newsday]

For all the booming that's happened on the local supermarket scene in the last few years, the development has almost entirely focused on high-end products (Fresh Market, Whole Foods) and/or areas that already had other supermarket choices (ShopRite). It's interesting to see a company looking at areas not currently served as a business opportunity.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Where the supermarkets are -- and aren't
+ The big box gets smaller
+ Soapbox: Oh, Whole Foods, why Colonie Center?

Find It

Ideal Food Basket
100 Broadway
Menands, NY 12204

Comments

I welcome them to the area, and I'm happy to see that vacant space occupied. But I thought CEO's comments about opening in an "underserved area" were a little odd, considering that there's a Price Chopper less than a mile up Broadway.

Also, while they're opening near food deserts, some of the wealthiest people in the area live just up the hill.

Good for them! What a nice, socially conscious corporate mission. I hope they do well there.

They went there partially because they are practically giving space away in that plaza.

@Chris: From a supermarket access perspective -- and, you know, if I could just have my way -- I think it would have been better for a new store to open in North Albany, maybe in the warehouse area. That location would provide a lot closer access to those underserved areas, and depending on the spot, it could have also maybe served the growing downtown Albany residential population.

But I suspect, as Parma suggests, that old Save-A-Lot spot was just really cheap and didn't need much renovation. Also, the zoning stuff is all worked out there, which I'm guessing would not be the case in North Albany. (And it's true there's a Price Chopper not too far from there -- but it's 1.5 miles north. And competition's not a bad thing.)

If anything, I'm just glad to see a company willing to think about opening urban supermarkets.

@Amy: I bet it's more about seeing a business opportunity than an act of social consciousness. But nothing wrong with that. A supermarket will only be sustainable if the company can make money running it.

I live in the dead zone over by SUNY, and all this time I thought it was my imagination.. but its true.

If you check out the company's website (http://afbasket.com), it appears that they specialize in meeting the needs of consumers who want "international foods." All or most of the company's principals are Hispanic. They have a store in Liberty (Sullivan Co.) too.

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