Whole Foods Market Reconsiders Lease Renewal for Local Flower Shop

Photo: Ashby Flowers co-owner Iraj Misaghi arranges roses at his which is located in thee Whole Foods parking lot. After pressure from the community, Whole Foods decided to reconsider renewing the flower shop's lease.
David Herschorn/File
Ashby Flowers co-owner Iraj Misaghi arranges roses at his which is located in thee Whole Foods parking lot. After pressure from the community, Whole Foods decided to reconsider renewing the flower shop's lease.

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After recent neighborhood dissent, Whole Foods Market decided Thursday to reconsider renewing the lease of a flower shop that has been located on the parking lot of its Berkeley store for more than half a century.

The market announced in April that it would not be renewing the lease for Ashby Flowers, located at the corner of Telegraph and Ashby Avenues. But public support for the shop prompted the market to reconsider.

"During our conversations with Ashby Flowers and with members of the community that began in spring 2008, it has become clear that Ashby Flowers is indeed a treasured asset to the local community and that it should remain where it is," said Jennifer Marples, principal of Koa Communications, the market's public relations firm, in a press release.

The lease for the shop was set to expire in July. The market, which bought the property in 1998, had plans to make room for a coffee shop and juice bar.

Marcy Simon, who has co-owned Ashby Flowers with her husband since 1995, said she expects to discuss the renewal of the lease later this week.

"We are cautiously optimistic, but we are eager to enter into negotiations soon," Simon said.

On Wednesday, the owners and about 50 neighborhood activists held a rally outside the market's Emeryville headquarters demanding that the lease be renewed.

Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who attended the rally, was concerned that the shop's loss would set a precedent for the mistreatment of small businesses in his district.

"It's quite wonderful that they have decided to keep Ashby Flowers," Worthington said. "It's a phenomenal business that serves many thousands of people in our community."

Nancy Carleton, co-chair of the Halcyon Neighborhood Association, which is located near the shop, said she was relieved at the market's change of plans.

"Our group hardly ever takes a position on land-use issues, unless there is complete unanimity," Carleton said. "Every single neighbor we spoke to felt very strongly about Ashby Flowers staying there."

Simon said that she is happy the market has decided to cater to the community members' wishes.

"We are so grateful that they have decided to do the right thing," she said. "The outpouring of support from our amazing community is beyond our wildest imagination."


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]

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