Grocers Fight Green Carts

March 25, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — Every day Sun Kim sends an employee from her Newkirk Avenue grocery store in Brooklyn down the block to check up on the prices of her competition: two green carts selling produce.  On a recent day, one of the carts was selling a pound of bananas for 59 cents. Ms. Kim decided to charge 79 cents to keep close to the competition. She said that the monthly revenue at her store has been cut in half since the carts appeared on her block in the spring of 2009.  “The green carts don’t have to pay rent and electricity,” she noted. “I can’t compete with their prices.”  In a town where jostling for a space is a sport there is a growing fault line: the grocery store, green cart tussle. The fight to sell lettuce and bananas is increasingly competitive.  The city started the green cart program almost three years ago to bring more fruits and vegetables to “underserved” neighborhoods with high rates of diet-related illnesses. Today, the city has issued about 450 permits to operate green carts in large swaths of the Bronx and upper Manhattan, as well as parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. While most normal food carts can operate anywhere and tend to congregate in high-traffic neighborhoods like midtown Manhattan, green carts can sell only in designated zones.

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