Mayor Fuller, Store Manager Faye and Peet’s Executive John

The Peet’s that had been in Newton Centre is now officially closed. But that’s not the end of the story. 

Today John Coletta, Chief Strategy Officer and head of retail flew in from the Peet’s home office in California to tell the community that yes, the corporate parent hears their needs. Just before stepping up to address the collected crowd, Coletta said to me and City Councilors Brenda Noel and David Kalis that if he could sign a new lease in Newton today, he would. 

As we all stood holding our cups of free coffee, Coletta focused much of his talk on the fact that he wishes they had done a bit more planning around this closure so they could close this store and immediately announce a new one. He went on to praise his landlords as being a great partner, but the Peet’s business model simply cannot be profitable at that location at those rents, but it could work elsewhere. 

Peet’s focuses on lower cost items with lower revenue per sales than some of their competitors. So instead of selling $5 and $7 drinks, they mostly sell $3 drinks and make additional revenue on beans. They are now shifting to bringing in better food, along with a sister chain Pret-a-Manger, and that’s something he’d like to do elsewhere in Newton. 

In addition to Councilors Kalis and Noel, Mayor Fuller was also on hand, along with Economic Development

Part of the Peet’s staff on their last day, including Maya (second from right) who was described as the “heart and soul” of the shop.

Director Kathryn Ellis. 

The audience had a chance to ask questions and many worried about the staff (Peet’s promises to offer them all jobs in other locations) as well as what will fill the space next. Mayor Fuller, for her part, committed to not only help Peet’s locate somewhere in Newton, preferably Newton Centre, but also to support them with the right mix of stores around whatever new location is identified. 

My favorite story of the morning came from the woman who noted that she met her husband at that location. Of course, as I mentioned before, I used to be there many Saturdays with my toddler son watching cars and teaching him to count. I also ran into a former client who met an angel investor at that location, a meeting that created a cascade that effect that not only got his edtech business off the ground but resulted in an eventual sale to Amazon. 

We can all say that rents are high in Newton Centre and we won’t be wrong. We can all say that we would love for landlords to take less money for their property, but is that a fair ask? Would you take less money for your house so you can sell it to a young family rather than someone who may tear it down or rip it apart? 

If you need a lesson in how Newton’s regulations get in the way of having the best retail, please go back and read Chris Steele’s post on the current regulatory environment. We can fix it, but it’s going to take work.