Thursday, June 29, 2006

Silver Spring

Every Whole Foods team goes on something called a "team build" where the entire team (aka 'department') leaves the store and does some activity.

So, they have to compensate by importing employees from other stores.

So, yesterday, four of us from the CVille store trekked all the way up to Silver Spring, Maryland, to help out. In hopes that they will trek all the way down to CVille when we have our own team build in August.

The Silver Spring WFM is nice. But, Charlottesvillians, you really are lucky to have the Whole Foods that you have. Since many stores sent help, we got to see representatives from several different stores. Now, everyone was decent, much more qualified than your typical grocery store cashier. But, we were just, I don't know, better. I suspect this is for two reasons. Our STL (aka general manager) is recognized as one of the better ones in the company, and he tends to place a heavy emphasis on quality training and promoting qualified supervisors and managers. Furthermore, it can't hurt that we draw our employees from Charlottesville and Albemarle.

But the thing that struck me the most about Silver Spring was not the Whole Foods. It was the downtown area as a whole. Apparently the Whole Foods shopping center was the first development in the area. Google Maps is screwy, but it shows the block across the street from WFM as an empty lot. Today, this lot is covered in 8-9 story buildings. For several blocks around there are newish looking office and residential towers, some of which are much higher than 9 stories. And at the bottom of all this is a bunch of shops, mostly chain stores and chain-style restaurants. There are not a lot of local businesses in this area. Interspersed amongst all this are a few historic churches and older buildings. It is these that host the few local businesses and compared to the shiny new buildings, they look quite run down. Adjacent to this mess is a charming neighborhood that looked quite similar to many neighborhoods in CVille, but surrounding the outskirts, for miles, it looks like Hollymead on steroids.

I have to wonder, is this the future of Charlottesville?


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