Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pedestrian Perspective: Honest Weight Food Co-op

In the summer, I do the majority of my grocery shopping at the farmer's market at Empire State Plaza.  The rest I do at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, with some odds and ends from Hannaford. A pedestrian perspective of Hannaford will come at some point, but today isn't a great day for nightmares, so we'll go with Honest Weight instead, which has the ambiance of a mildly disturbing dream.  There are actually two possible pedestrian perspectives.  Today we'll go with the one I see most often.  The trip from The College of Saint Rose is much nicer. 

Both Hannaford and Honest Weight are located on Central Avenue in Albany.  Honest Weight is currently planning and fundraising for a move to a new location on Watervliet Avenue, in the industrial district between Central Ave and I-90.  I have mixed feelings about the new location, one of the reasons I haven't become a member yet.  It's larger, which is cool since it's cramped.  But the cramped space is one of the things I like about it.  The imperfections of the experience make me smile.  The new location also does not have bus service on Sundays, though I've been told by Ross Farrell of CDTA in a public meeting that if the co-op moves, they will institute Sunday service on that route.

The new design of the new Honest Weight Food Co-op. It was originally a more expensive design, but due to the recession, they needed to cut costs.  (Times Union)
Remember, all of my journeys start from the bus stop at Washington Avenue and Lark Street, if I'm busing there in the first place, which I usually am, especially for groceries.  Come to think of it, groceries are the one complaint I always reliably hear in discussions online about living without a car.  "What, you're going to just carry 15 bags of groceries 20 miles on foot from the store?!?!"  Well, no.  But I will carry two re-usable bags (that fit a lot of stuff and are super easy to carry) a block, get on a bus and then carry them a few more blocks when I get off.

It's pretty easy and you get great exercise.

This is a bit far from the topic of this blog, otherwise I'd do a separate post about it.  However, the co-ops in Troy and Albany beg for some public comparison.  The co-op in Troy opened last year with lots of support from the community.  Late last year, they sounded an alarm that they would no longer be able to survive as a business unless more people started shopping there.  However, the thing they forgot to do was stock the shelves with things that people want in a co-op.  As a result, I think they lost customers right away and never got them back.

Honest Weight is the opposite.  They stock an enormous array of items in demand by its members.  They have regular rotating specials and a deli that produces things like Matt's Tofu Salad, which is something like soy heaven in a plastic container.

So the key to the success of a business like this may no more simple than "put things on the shelves".  Weird.  I do hope that the co-op in Troy makes it.  That wonderful little city deserves every unique and wonderful thing that comes its way.

Oh well, enough of my blathering. Onto the pedestrian perspective:

Armory Station: Washington Avenue and Lark Street.  Where I get BusPlus uptown to the co-op.
North Manning Station: Central Avenue and North Manning Boulevard.  There's also the option of taking the #1 to Partridge Street or Manning Station.  I prefer Manning because you can catch either.
Looking further down Central Avenue toward the co-op. This is much nicer than the suburban crap that happens in the other direction.  When I do a Pedestrian Perspective of going to Hannaford or the gym, you'll see.

Jack's Diner, recently re-opened.

The parking lot of Jack's actually creates an unexpectedly nice pedestrian walkway.  And the diner itself isn't the monolithic, blank-walled structure that typically accompanies a parking lot, so the walk is quite pleasant.  Charming piece of Americana!

The police station parking lot, surrounded by older industrial buildings.


Another shot of the police parking lot.  Not really doing much for the street here.

You can see how little it would take to make this stuff super fun.

I mean look at this, right here.  How fun would it be if this were a legit pedestrian walkway going to something else.  Someday it will be.  The human spirit is crying out everywhere for something to affirm it.  Target and reality TV just...don't.

That white building is the Honest Weight Food Co-op.  You can see why they want to move.  If I had pictures from inside, it'd be even clearer (alas, I was too busy shopping and that's not really the point of this blog).  This is where my picture taking ends.  It was a very hazy day, which really messes up the light when you're armed with nothing more than an iPhone.
So there's the Honest Weight Food Co-op Pedestrian Perspective.  I think my next one will be the Albany Medical Center area on New Scotland Avenue, with the added twist of Google Map Street View images from before the redevelopment.  But I always seem to make these plans and get distracted, so we'll see.

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