Friday, June 4, 2010

What Happened to Harry’s?

I am so glad to know I am not the only one who was concerned about the Whole Foods takeover of Atlanta’s re-known grocery store, Harry’s Farmers Market several years ago.  I know, I know I am a little behind the times. However, I have not been down here during the change and now see the full effects of it. At first, I had no clue if it would be for the better, worse or just the same. A friend of mine recently voiced their concerns about it during dinner one evening, and I could not help myself but agree about everything she said after visiting there many times upon my move down south last year.

I find myself reminiscing the past every time I go into Harry’s. I would always look forward to making that trip, spending sometimes a couple of hours touring the aisles and tasting their samples, but now it’s not as worthwhile as it used to be. I am just not as satisfied as I used to when shopping. Do not get me wrong – Harry’s still has their identity but lost some of its personality and variety since the “Whole Foodization”.

For instance, I feel the selection is more limited now than it was prior to the takeover. Harry’s used to have more rare products that were not available anywhere else in the metro area. They were already forward thinking when it came to selling local house made products such as their baked and packaged goods. I could never get enou gh of their cheese bread or apple muffins.
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They carried more rare imports compared to what they sell today. I cannot find the French Brie that I used to be able to buy, and where on Earth is Mr. Brown’s Iced Coffee? Yes, it is an import that probably took quite some time to arrive from the United Arab Emirates, but it was one of my favorite beverages to buy while I shopped there. The last time I got a hold of it was in Germany, and I am now afraid I probably will never see it again. It is amazing what the effects of globalization will do to consumers.

Prices were most certainly not as expensive as they are now, both for domestic and international products. Paying $13 for a decent jar of honey is just not as appetizing as it was before the takeover. The structure of the store is different than it was before, but it was also much needed. It now makes sense to consumer. However, their imperfections gave the place more personality to the store, regardless of how it was designed. In fact, it made me remember where everything was more than it does now. For instance, the produce and the bakery was combined in one section upon the entrance. The beer and wine section was completely blocked off from the main pathway, appearing to be forbidden territory to even step into the section. Nowadays, no wall exists as the entire area is included with the rest of the store. I also noticed the lack of international flags that hang on their ceiling, as they used to have a plethora of representing countries who provide to the store. Now it is just a small strip across the meat section. IMG_0522
Despite the disappointments, their customer service improved drastically and the deli buffets are much more appetizing than previous times. If Harry’s was still independently owned, I think it would still have its old character and would even have more local products for the consumer due the spread of the trendy, organic local food movement.

I am still happy to know that Harry’s exists, but I am honestly disappointed that they had to have a large corporation control them to keep them from closing. Maybe it’s because I knew what the old Harry’s was like rather than what it is now.  In any case, Harry’s will sill be a shopping destination. I can at least enjoy what is left of it.

Harry's Farmers Market
70 Powers Ferry Road
Marietta, GA 30067

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