Around the Hub: Whatever happened to the local grocery?


It didn’t happen overnight, but the face of local grocery shopping is considerably different that it was even five years ago.   

Traditional grocery stores are disappearing from neighborhoods around Los Angeles. In some cases their hulks and the large unsustainable parking lots that surround them are being torn down and replaced with affordable housing.  In other instances the businesses are being taken over by brands that aren’t Ralph’s, Vons, Lucky, Safeway or Albertsons. 

Is this another instance of internet disruption — like what happened to newspapers, taxis and shopping malls? Or is there something else at work in the Southland?  

I don’t know the answer. But watching the grocery stores disappear in my neighborhood (first Ralphs, now Vons) and seeing the success of the Whole Foods in downtown Los Angeles has got me thinking about where to go next.  

At this point I guess a trip to the grocery store is about experience as much as a neighborhood connection or habit. And, I don’t know about you, but my typical grocery store trip now usually involves three or four trips — one for traditional products, another for fresh fruits and vegetables, a third for speciality items and a fourth for ethnic spices, breads or novelties. 

It’s probably a good thing when you think about it, and it probably — in some way — explains the resurgence of Grand Central Market and the movement toward fresh offerings in South Los Angeles and elsewhere.  

What do you think is going on? What’s your favorite grocery stop? Send me an email and let me know. I’ll publish your responses in a future issue of The Hub.  


  1. For the last decade I have avoided large grocery stores and preferred to shop at specialty stores, farmers markets and ethnic food stores and shops. The big grocers offer variety but they are too impersonal. And, I just need simple to, paper towels, and other staples. I’m not a brand conscious person when it comes to staples.


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