Promoting development of supermarkets in the many
urban neighborhoods that lack them is a primary goal
of the healthy food movement, but for a number of reasons it’s slow going.
Small healthy food stores opened in inner city neighborhoods in Philadelphia and Baltimore in recent years but
quickly went out of business. Advocates say the owners meant well but failed to connect with members
of the community.
“Putting a new store in isn’t enough,” said Anne Palmer,
a food policy advocate at Johns Hopkins University.
“It’s much more complicated. It’s very hard to get all
these things working in concert.”
The nonprofit Fare & Square market in Chester, Pa.,
is a new urban supermarket that has succeeded since
it opened two years ago. Chester is a struggling city of
about 34,000 south of Philadelphia.
Fare & Square is located in an old supermarket that
closed 11 year ago. The 14,500-square-foot store, the
first nonprofit of its kind, was built by Philabundance,
a large hunger relief organization in Philadelphia.
As a nonprofit, Fare & Square is not supposed to make
money and it’s not. Mike Basher, vice president of retail
operations, said revenue increased by 25 percent from
year one to year two, but the store is generating only
75 percent of the revenue it needs to break even.
“The board’s comfortable with us losing money,”
Healthy corner store advocates
say they do everything they can
to hold prices down.
An inside look at the Fare & Square grocery store. Fare & Square
always has fresh produce and a large selection of meat and seafood
available to its customers.
Photos courtesy of Philabundance