Small Grocers Boost DC Neighborhoods

The Washington Post: “Good Food Markets is just one of a handful of neighborhood grocery stores that have opened across Washington DC recently, part of what appears to be a resurgence of small-scale groceries catering to neighborhood residents — in stark contrast to the trend of disappearing mom-and-pop stores in small towns across the country. Even as more openings are in the pipeline for large retail chains such as Whole Foods and Wegmans, the smaller neighborhood stores are making their mark. By one count, at least six have opened since 2015, and more are in the works.”

“There is a ‘renaissance of the neighborhood,’ said Keith Sellars, president and chief executive of the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, a nonprofit, ‘and people want services that they can walk to’ as well as ‘convenience on all levels.’ The new corner groceries are part of a broader back-to-the-city movement in parts of the country, said Brett Theodos, a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute. That trend, Theodos said, is driving demand for a ‘job-rich, transit-rich environment’ and ‘the meeting together of commercial and residential sectors in a way that feels very authentic and vibrant’.”

“Owners of these newer neighborhood grocery markets push back against the idea that their stores, which often stock more expensive, specialty items, price out lower-income consumers and are yet another instance of gentrification. For one thing, many of the new stores have opened in spaces that had stood vacant for some time … at Good Food Markets, the driving mission of the entire business is ‘bringing the overall progress of prosperity and development across the District,’ co-founder Kris Garin said. Good Food Markets intentionally chose to open on Rhode Island Avenue … where close to a quarter of the population are food stamp recipients, said Philip Sambol, the vice president for operations. The goal is to make healthy food accessible to everyone.”


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