Sen. Velmanette Montgomery Worries Local Grocery Store Will Be Replaced With Boutique Market

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn state senator apologized Tuesday for remarks invoking the subject of race in a discussion about a Clinton Hill grocery store set to close – and the possibility that a “boutique” grocery store that could replace it.

State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) was quoted in The Brooklyn Paper as saying the soon-to-close Key Food store should be replaced with a similar store, because communities of color have eat differently than white communities.

“Supermarkets are an important part of the community. It’s an important amenity, especially for black and brown communities,” Montgomery was quoted in the newspaper. “When you’re talking about a white community, it can be a little boutique, because white people don’t eat the way we do.”

Speaking to CBS2 Tuesday night, Montgomery confirmed that she made the comments, saying, “It was an unfortunate statement and I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

Montgomery told CBS2 her intention was to imply that the supermarket planned to replace the Key Foods wasn’t right for the neighborhood. She said the Key Food store could be replaced with a “boutique” supermarket with higher prices and a smaller size.

She said this does not make sense for the people in the neighborhood, because they are lower-income and have larger families.

The Key Food store on Lafayette Avenue between St. James Place and Classon Avenue will close within the next two months to make sway for an eight-story residential building, The Brooklyn Paper reported. The landlord said he planned to bring a supermarket back to the site once it is finished, but said he could not guarantee that it would happen, the newspaper reported.

Montgomery’s remark on the subject was made this week at a community meeting about the redevelopment plan, at the Ryerson Towers Mitchell Lama co-op complex, the newspaper reported.

No one commented on the remark at the time, but some others in the predominantly African-American crowd at the meeting blamed the loss of the Key Food store on gentrification and said developers do not care about African-American seniors who will be affected.