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Profiteering at Piazza's

Original post made by Resident on May 8, 2008

Yes, food and other commodity prices have increased a lot
recently, so I'm not shocked to be paying more for some
items.

But yesterday I went to Piazza's to buy some King Arthur
flour. Admittedly, this is a premium brand, more expensive
than the bleached Gold Medal stuff. I think I used to pay
about $4 for a 5 lb bag.

Piazza's has jacked their price up to $7.99! By contrast,
Mollie Stone's, where I went next, only charges $5.69.

I think this kind of profiteering is inappropriate. It's
hard to not believe they've marked this up extra-high
assuming people will just expect flour to be expensive
now in order to make extra profit.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Comments (24)

Posted by jar, a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2008 at 2:20 pm



you can always shop at Whole Paycheck down town

BTW when does Trader Joes open in town and country village, they have great prices great food and they will not sell produce from China because so much of it is poisoned


Posted by Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Only in Palo Alto is making a profit considered criminal. You wanted a premium brand and you went to a premium store, yet you seem shocked that they charged a premium price. And now on the basis of the price of one item you are willing to boycott the store -- its not like you did a citywide comparison on the pricing of an identical basket of groceries.

Piazzas is a great local store and its a pleasure to shop at, but its clearly not the cheapest place in town. If you want the most flour for the lowest price, check out Costco.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm

When you voted for no drilling and for ethanoloholics you voted for higher food prices. Voting has consequences.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Ventura
on May 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Of course they have to make a profit. I'm not an idiot and
that's not my point.

My point is that they shouldn't be taking advantage of the market
pricing situation to make *extra* profits. At $7.99 per sack,
they're making a lot more profit than before the price increases.

That's called profiteering.

And thanks, Walter, for another of your typical, out-of-context
knee-jerk remarks. How do you know how I vote? And when was
"ethanoloholics" on the ballot?


Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Resident,

You have a fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism. "Profiteering" is the act of making the most possible profit. Profit is modulated by supply, demand AND competition. If you want to quit Piazza's, then you are forcing competition.

Walter is correct about the absurdity of voting in those who would purposely restrict the supply of our own domestic oil and other energy (nuclear) supplies. Elections do have consequences.

BTW, if you want to do some profiteering of your own, invest in dollars...you will come up smelling like roses in a couple of years. Your could double up by shorting the Euro.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2008 at 4:29 pm

'How do you know how I vote? And when was
"ethanoloholics" on the ballot?'
Based on your complaint I knew you were economics challenged and thus either a democrat or a California republican. As for ethanoloholics, alas, they all are, but that is because you blow away rational candidates in the primaries.



Posted by Buns of Steel, a resident of Stanford
on May 8, 2008 at 4:51 pm


To those interested...

Trader Joe's has the best price on King Arthur flours (white, white whole wheat, and red whole wheat). Problem was, Trader Joe's used to only stock these flours from September thru January.

The next best price is Safeway.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Walter,

Gee, Resident is either a "democrat or a California republican" (sic)--gee, that's covering your bases.

Resident is fairly conservative and always has been.

Supermarkets are in a pretty tight bind right now--food prices are going up. In the best of times, supermarkets run on really small profit margins--4 percent and less. Raise prices too much on some staples--such as milk--you alienate your customer base. So independents like Piazza's *do* look for goods where they can set a profitable price point. Becaise they're independents, they can't take advantage of large-volume discounts or, a la WalMart, clobber their suppliers into submission.

As for Democrats being economics-challenged--the U.S. consistently does better under Democrats. Bush II tanked every business he was ever near. His presidency, alas, has been no exception. It's kind of mind-boggling just how short-sighted his economic policies have been. Goes way beyond party politics, it's just *bad*. I mean, it started with the Enron follies (speaking of energy policies), and has only deteriorated--the mortgage fiasco, the out-of-control debt, the out-of-control no-end-in-sight war spending, the lack of any program to reduce dependence on foreign oil (why? Because George had friends in the oil biz.), underfunding of the technological R & D that's kept us economically ahead of the curve. . . .I mean, it just goes on and on and on.

It's kind of funny how you're trying to blame Democrats for this mess--we haven't had the opportunity to blow it for several years.





Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on May 8, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Gary: "BTW, if you want to do some profiteering of your own, invest in dollars...you will come up smelling like roses in a couple of years. Your could double up by shorting the Euro."

I feel sorry for anyone who takes this advice. The dollar is not going to bounce back anytime soon. In fact, we may be entering a period where their is relatively semi-permanent disparity between what the dollar use to command in the open exchange markets, and what it will earn in the future.

There are serious structural imbalances at play in currency arbitrage - don't play with fire; you might get burned.

As for the cost of flour - ultimately, large agribusiness interests have been lobbying for ethanol ever since they finished raping the international agricultural commodity markets. As soon as the easy profits left, they were on to the next scam - ethanol. So, they paid of some people on both sides of the aisle; paid some researchers for positive experimental results, and voila! - UP goes the demand for agricultural land NOT used to husband the corn crop. You get the picture.

And btw, all your fav candidates (McCain, Obama, and Clinton)- in both parties - voted for ethanol conversion, with pockets lined by big agribusiness $$$. In addition Obama voted for the Peruvian FTA, a carbon copy of NAFTA, a program he says he opposes.

America, where for art thou?


Posted by Retired, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Piazzas has always been very high priced on almost everything. 100%to 150% higher.
The people who shop there for most of their food have very high incomes and /or don't eat much.

It is a nice store and convient place to pick up a few things and unusual things.
I suspect they and the other stores like them were involved in getting rid of Albertsons/Luckys as a big new store at Alma Plaza would be real competition.
Now we must drive to Mt.View to shop.
Trader Joes flower of that brand was low priced a few monts ago even lower than Safeway. Maybe it was a 10 lb bag at Piazzas? HA!
Corn based products have gone up,maybe 100%, but wheat is grown in a different part of the country and doubt they have converted to corn ,yet.

The etneol ??sp., producers should be required to only use it and not oil for running their tractors, etc in it's production before getting a subsidy.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2008 at 4:23 am

Anyone who sees a defense of republicans in my letters needs lessons. The refusal of politicians of both parties to accomodate our nation's energy needs would be, if imposed from abroad, an act of war. Wild exagerations of adverse efects of energy production and trivialization of the contribution of energy to our lives have guaranteed our children a life dirtier, shorter and meaner than the lives we lived. We have disipated the seed corn of civilization; the harvest will be grim.
See writings of Petr Beckman and Dixy Lee Ray.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2008 at 5:06 am

I wish we could replace Piazza's with a Nob Hill Foods/Railey's.
Their prices rival Safeway's, and their produce,meat, and fish are awesome. They surpass other markets. It is a California supermarket which has prices to meet the needs of everyone in a community.

Piazza's is taking up space. I have been waiting for them to go out of business for years.

We need a supermarket to meet the needs of everyone.


Posted by MidtownMom, a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2008 at 6:23 am

This is like going to Saks 5th store and expecting Target prices on a pair of socks !

Piazzas / Whole Foods *is* far more expensive than the other stores in the viscinity.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2008 at 7:58 am

Safeway in Menlo Park. Great store!!


Posted by k, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2008 at 9:36 am

Nob Hill Foods (Raley's) in Mountain View, Grant/ECR....wonderful store.


Posted by frank, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 9, 2008 at 10:11 am

I haven't done a broad comparison shopping, but Midtown Safeway charges $1.49 for a head of red or green leaf lettuce while Piazza'a charges $1.29 most of the time. I understood that the profit margin for grocery stores was about 2, not 4%. I'm surprised that Piazzas with its lower volume purchasing can compete.

The number of shoopers at Piazzas seem to be comparable to those at Midtown Safeway and enjoy better parking. Both must be doing good service for the community.


Posted by facts first, a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Also possible that Piazza'a higher price reflects recent purchase they made while Mollie Stone's was still working off old inventory.


Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on May 9, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Mike,

You bet against America, on a consistent basis.

To quote Tom Wolfe, "The biggest problem is all the people who see a problem."

You see, Mike, Americans are not in lock step with your dismal Stalinism. We want a future. We will make decisions to provide a future. We always have. The revolution of feedom is still alive!

We WILL drill our own domestic oil; we WILL have many new nuclear power plants; we WILL conserve; we WILL innovate. All of this, without you telling us what to do. Imagine that?!

Bet on the dollar. The Euro will sink, as Europe sinks. America still has it, in spades, over any other region. If Russia decides to shut off the natural gas to Europe, the Europeans will freeze. If Georgia goes to war with Russia, Europeans will be hopeless and helpless, unless they decide to approve Russian aggression in Europe. America cannot be bullied that way.

The 21st Century will be another American Century. Bet on it.


Posted by Piazza's Fan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm

I'm grateful we have Piazza's...they have a great selection for a medium-sized store, and it's a pleasure to shop there. I can't stand Safeway, and I'm glad I have alternatives.


Posted by Gary, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Unless I'm eating out, I spend most of my money outside Palo Alto. Supermarkets, auto dealerships, hotels, best buy, cost-co, home depot, Walmart, OSH, Bed @ Bath, ikea, even Valley Fair shopping center and Santana row are better than Stanford.


Posted by Shopper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm

If you decide to shop at Piazzas, you know what to expect. Wheat and flour prices are increasing due to the ethanol craze. Meat and dairy are also going up for the same reasons. All groceries are going up because of the rise in gas prices.

C'est la vie.


Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on May 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm

"Wheat and flour prices are increasing due to the ethanol craze"

Please provide solid evidence for that statemtment. Rice prices are soaring, too, but rice is not used to make ethanol fuel. Neither is wheat, btw, although one could specualate about displacement of the two crops. Also, most corn ethanol is from animal feed corn, not human grain crops used for flour production.

There is a worldwide demand for grain crops, because millions of people are starting to escape poverty on this planet. That is a good thing.

Corn farmers have suffered overproduction issues since the 30s. Now, the farmers have a chance to make some real money. Why shouldn't they? Do we object when our property values increase, thus providing unearned wealth? Does the city of Palo Alto deserve increased tax revenues, based on increased property values (based on supply and demand)?

Ethanol is NOT a major asnwer to fuel issues. However, a little bit of it will support farmers. The major answers to the fuel issues are domestic oil drilling, nuclear power, coal and solar (inclduding wind ). If the carbon footprint is a major concern, then put a tax on carbon, and give carbon credits to nuclear and solar, in proportion to their electrical production capabilities. Let the market decide which is best.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Trader Joe's is still selling frozen shrimp from China and canned crab meat from Thailand.
TJ's "Says" it is trying to stop or cut back its purchase from China. But look at the fresh seafood counter at both Safeway-Midtown and Safeway-Menlo Park. The shrimp is marked.
All except the tiny salad shrimp are from China or Thailand, I asked at Cook's Seafood and its larger shrimp come from China. So ask questions. Thailand has a huge farm-raised fish industry. And remember that Atlantic farm raised salmon is colored red, which acc. to what I have read is bad for anyone with arthritis, polymyalgia, and fibromyalgia. I can't touch that seafood. I am reading labels, and I put a lot of items back on the shelf. A lot of produce comes from Chile - and Mexico.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Trader Joe's is still selling frozen shrimp from China and canned crab meat from Thailand.
TJ's "Says" it is trying to stop or cut back its purchase from China. But look at the fresh seafood counter at both Safeway-Midtown and Safeway-Menlo Park. The shrimp is marked.
All except the tiny salad shrimp are from China or Thailand, I asked at Cook's Seafood and its larger shrimp come from China. So ask questions. Thailand has a huge farm-raised fish industry. And remember that Atlantic farm raised salmon is colored red, which acc. to what I have read is bad for anyone with arthritis, polymyalgia, and fibromyalgia. I can't touch that seafood. I am reading labels, and I put a lot of items back on the shelf. A lot of produce comes from Chile - and Mexico.


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