The Coolest Grocery Store That Never Existed

The Coolest Grocery Store That Never Existed

In early February Arturo Payamps, the general manager of a City Fresh Market grocery store in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, received a message on WhatsApp from a friend. It included a link to a TikTok video showing the outside of the store with a sign for Erewhon, the trendy organic grocer in Los Angeles, in the place where a City Fresh sign was mounted after the market opened in the early 2000s.

“Have you tried the Bushwick Erewhon yet?” read the caption of the TikTok post.

Mr. Payamps, 42, said in an interview on Tuesday that he “was in shock” after seeing the video, which took viewers around the grocery store while pointing out the cost of various items. Some of the prices given for products — $11.99 for a dozen organic eggs, $9.29 for a box of Cap’n Crunch — were real. But others, like a purportedly $20 beet-and-spinach smoothie from the store’s juice counter, were fake. (Mr. Payamps said such a drink actually costs around $6.50.)

Dulce Simono, 36, a manager at City Fresh, called the video harmful and confusing. “I didn’t take it as a joke,” she said, describing the price of the juice given in the video as “misinformation.” She attempted to have the TikTok post removed from the platform, she added, but was unsuccessful.

Since it was posted the video, which was also shared on Instagram, has received more than 1.1 million views on that platform and more than 600,000 views on TikTok. Certain comments on the Instagram post suggested that some who saw it might have been duped. “Gentrification gone wild,” read one. But other comments on the video recognized it for the prank that it was: “Anyone that thinks this is real hasn’t experienced Erewhon,” one read.

The video was shared by social media accounts for Hotspot, a listings and recommendation app described in marketing copy as “Yelp for hot people.” Stanley Vergilis, 32, a founder of Hotspot, and Joey Cannizarro, 29, its social media manager, said in a joint interview that producing videos with the intention of sparking conversations on social media is a way to drum up attention for the business.

Mr. Cannizarro, who lives in Bushwick, came up with the Bushwick Erewhon idea after a recent trip to Los Angeles, where he visited an actual Erewhon location. He said that while roaming its aisles he noticed some items cost about the same as similar products sold at his local City Fresh. Mr. Cannizaro, a New York resident of 11 years, said the video was meant to highlight the stores’ nearly identical prices and what he called “the changing landscape” of Bushwick, which has begun to experience the type of gentrification that has transformed the nearby neighborhood of Williamsburg.

According to a report by New York University’s Furman Center, which studies housing policy, white residents made up about 3 percent of Bushwick’s population in 2000, while Black and Hispanic residents combined made up around 91 percent. Between the years of 2017 and 2021, white residents accounted for about 24 percent of the neighborhood’s population, with Black and Hispanic residents accounting for about 64 percent. Households with a median income of between $100,001 and $250,000 comprised about 13 percent of Bushwick’s population in 2000; between the years of 2017 and 2021, they comprised about 25 percent.

The Bushwick Erewhon video is “tapping into something that is already out there, it’s already in the air,” Mr. Cannizarro said. “It is just believable enough that the people who caught it are in on it. And those who didn’t catch it were fooled by it.” He added that some who believed the video was real might have been duped because the City Fresh store has a “very specific interior design, in the way that Erewhon also has a specific design agenda.”

That Erewhon executives have said they plan to open a store in New York might have also made it more believable. Representatives for the company did not reply to requests for comment by the time of this article’s publication.

Mr. Vergilis believed the video took off “because people already thought the store was overpriced and a sign of gentrification,” he said.

The changing demographics of Bushwick have also been witnessed by Mr. Payamps in his time working at City Fresh. “We have a lot more younger customers now,” he said. “We used to have a lot more Hispanic customers. Now we have people from all over.”

“My opinion is that the neighborhood is changing for the better,” he said, adding that inflation has factored into the store’s prices.

Mr. Payamps said that, as Bushwick has evolved, so too has City Fresh. “We used to have a lot of rice. Now we have a whole station of quinoa,” he said. Another change: As a result of the Bushwick Erewhon video, there are now plans to start a TikTok account for the City Fresh store.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »
Scroll to Top
Donald Trump Could Be Bitcoin’s Biggest Price Booster: Experts USWNT’s Olympic Final Standard Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Highlights What to see in New York City galleries in May Delhi • Bomb threat • National Capital Region • School