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Do You Know the Muffin Man?

Annys Shin (“Our Daily Dread,” 2/22) does an outstanding job addressing the question I have asked ever since moving to D.C. 16 years ago: Why are there no good, old-fashioned, family-owned bakeries here offering high-quality goods at reasonable prices? Shin clearly asked a lot of right-on questions of the upscale “artisan” bakers and the food chains (Safeway, Giant, and Whole Foods). But the most important question is never addressed anywhere in the article: What would Marvelous Market, Firehook, or Uptown Bakery artisan breads cost if they actually were sold in the chain stores? The article explains in detail why those stores have resisted artisan breads, but there is no reason to believe that Safeway et al. could offer the same breads at lower prices. If they would charge as much as the boutique bakeries themselves, what’s the fuss? What D.C. needs are the kind of bakeries you find in Manhattan neighborhoods, selling delicious yet unpretentious breads, bagels, muffins, cookies, and cakes at fair prices. Maybe getting the chain stores to sell artisan breads isn’t the answer; maybe more bakeries giving competition to the boutiques is. Competition can work wonders in driving down prices.