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Crain’s New York Business reports that Fairway Markets is negotiating for space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which would be its eighth store in the metropolitan area and yet another move in an expansion plan that seems to be gaining momentum.

The new store would be on East 86th Street, between Second and Third Avenues, in a space previously occupied by a Circuit City (which went bankrupt) and a Barnes & Noble 9which moved to another location). It would also be just twenty blocks south of a new Costco store that was opened just four months ago, but that has been reported as having trouble catching on with area residents; roughly a third of the Costco’s 450 employees were laid off a few weeks ago because business was not where it needed to be.

Fairway currently operates two stores on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, plus a store in Brooklyn, one on Long Island and one in Paramus, New Jersey.

The company plans to open a new store in suburban Pelham. NY, in April, and a store in Stamford, Connecticut, before the end of the year. it also reportedly has plans for a store in Douglaston, Queens.
KC's View:
It isn’t hard to imagine that Fairway will have an easier time on the Upper East Side than Costco, since it has a strong reputation in the city and an approach to food that probably is more in synch with how New Yorkers think and act. (I know people who cross Central Park to the west side to shop at the Fairway stores on the west side, and they’ll rejoice at this news.)

That said...I have to say that I am concerned that Fairway may be growing faster than it should. I know the company has taken on some investors, who probably are looking for faster growth and greater returns. And I know that the folks Fairway know far more than I about what it takes to operate and grow their business.

But I’ve heard some stories about how the culture there may be fraying at the edges a bit because of the stress of so much growth.

And the numbers may be hard to make work. They need smart people, which means they are poaching - and sometimes overpaying - people from other companies.

I don’t cite the Bible much, mostly because I always figure that I’m risking a lightning bolt coming down and knocking me off my chair. But in this case, a quote from the Gospel of Mark seems appropriate:

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

Just asking.