Students and Penn community members recently learned that the Fresh Grocer will close, prompting widespread confusion among Penn students and West Philadelphia community members.
While Penn administrators have confirmed that the supermarket’s tenancy will end in late March, representatives from the Fresh Grocer put the closing date in early March. Both the University and the Fresh Grocer have released little information about the impending closure.
Penn's Facilities and Real Estate Services Director of Communications Jennifer Rizzi wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that the University hopes to open a new supermarket by the end of the year, but the identity of the future tenant and the timeline for closing the Fresh Grocer and opening the new market remains unknown. Although the University and Acme Markets announced in 2017 that an Acme supermarket will replace the Fresh Grocer, a representative for the Fresh Grocer declined to comment whether this is the case.
Penn students and University City residents deserve more information and transparency from the University about the Fresh Grocer’s closure and the timeline for its replacement, as these groups depend on the supermarket and need time to prepare for the change.
Students and West Philadelphians alike visit the Fresh Grocer not only for food, but for hygienic products, cleaning supplies, and over-the-counter medications. For most people in the University City area, the Fresh Grocer is the place where these necessities are most easily accessible.
The people that rely on this supermarket deserve to know the timeline of installing its replacement. This will give customers time to stock up on certain essentials before the Fresh Grocer closes, as well as to figure out which other supermarkets they will visit until the new market reopens. Depending on the timeline of closing and reopening, the area may be left without an affordable supermarket for several months, and customers should have an adequate chance to prepare for this.
While there are other supermarkets in the area, the Fresh Grocer on 4001 Walnut St. is the most affordable and accessible option for many people. There is an ALDI market at 4421 Market St., a GIANT Heirloom Market at 3401 Chestnut St., and a Trader Joe’s at 2121 Market St. with a free shuttle that runs biweekly for Penn students.
However, the Fresh Grocer has the advantage of being located right at the edge of Penn’s campus, with a SEPTA bus stop in front of the store. Distance matters for many people who do not have cars, cannot afford constant rideshares from Uber or Lyft, or cannot travel substantial distances due to disability. Even though there are other supermarkets in the area, they are not necessarily as accessible or affordable as the Fresh Grocer.
Many students and West Philadelphians are likely planning to visit the new supermarket when it opens in place of the Fresh Grocer. But without more information, they cannot know whether the new market will be a viable alternative.
While the Fresh Grocer is a 24-hour supermarket, the new market may not be. Prices at the new market may be higher than those of the Fresh Grocer, and certain products carried at the Fresh Grocer may not be available. Students and community members deserve to learn more about Fresh Grocer’s replacement as soon as possible.
As one of the partners in the agreement with Fresh Grocer, Penn likely has substantial information on the supermarket’s closure and its replacement. The University needs to share these details with the Penn and West Philadelphia communities.
Editorials represent the majority view of members of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. Editorial Board, which meets regularly to discuss issues relevant to Penn's campus. Participants in these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on related topics.