Monday, May 22, 2006

New Red Hook Fairway: Excellent Store, Just Don't Take Pictures

Gowanus Lounge did what a lot of curious Brooklyn shoppers did this weekend: We went to Red Hook to check out the new Fairway. (And within 90 seconds on the property were set upon by store security asking us to not take photos because the Fairway has a "no pictures policy." More about that in a moment.) When Fairway opened last week, (official ribbon cutting with Mayor Bloomberg and Boro. Pres. Marty Markowitz was this morning at 10:30) we joked about how some shoppers had nearly been moved to tears and compared it to East Berliners we saw the day the Berlin Wall fell having their first encounters with West Berlin supermarkets. Well, GL admits to spending our first half-hour in the new Fairway with mouth hanging open.

A few points about the Fairway: First, it is phenomenal, with 50,000 square feet of space. "This is the greatest store I've ever been in," enthused one shopper pushing a cart with two little girls riding shotgun.

Second, business is good. There was near gridlock in the parking lot this weekend. Fortunately, the crowd spreads out through the whole store. The scene in the cheese, meat and seafood departments, however, resembled the approach to the Holland Tunnel at rush hour, but with shopping-deprived Brooklynites and shopping carts. (Not pretty. Not pretty, at all.) The bakery department is Darwinian.

Third, on its opening weekend, Fairway drew a wonderfully diverse crowd, with the shoppers ranging from 60-year-old African-American women from Red Hook to 25-year-old yuppies from Carroll Gardens.

Fourth, the management doesn't like people with cameras, not that you could tell from all the people that photoblogged the store last week. Gowanus Lounge met every manager in the store within our first 45-minutes, because Fairway has a "no photography" policy. (First, airports. Then, the hassles on the subways. Now, supermarkets?) A manager explained that it's to keep the competition from spying. Nasty little business, supermarkets. (GL was allowed to shoot away after explaining. Over and over and over.) Fun Fairway Idea Number One: Take a camera and take pictures while you shop.

Fifth, the staff took a beating on opening weekend. "I'm going out and getting drunk after we close," one supervisor was overheard saying into a cell phone. The woman who bagged GL's groceries joked, "They need to give us some pain killers."

GL notes that Red Hook has a lot more rules now than in the old days. Even the BWAC art show across the street from Fairway stationed security volunteers on the Beard Street pier to stop visitors from walking around for "liability reasons."

Ah, the New and Improved Red Hook.


Blogger dalton said...

I suppose it wouldn't be helpful inside the store, but it can never hurt to carry around a copy of The Photographer's Bill of Rights

11:42 AM  

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