One of the raps on corner stores is that they charge
higher prices than the big, fancy supermarkets in the
suburbs. Healthy corner store advocates said they do
everything they can to hold prices down.
“We try and be real aggressive on our pricing,” Basher
said. “We’re always looking for better deals on produce,
meats, some of your proteins.”
Many corner store customers participate in the federal
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
which pays for the food they eat.
Basher said SNAP benefits arrive early in the month
and tend to run out in the third and fourth weeks.
To help its customers deal with that dilemma, Fare &
Square created the Carrot Club, which offers customers who say they meet federal poverty guidelines a 7
percent discount on their purchases and an additional
3 percent on fresh fruit and vegetables.
Customers store those savings and draw on them to pay
for food at the end of the month, Basher said.
“Last year we gave back in Carrot Cash over $140,000,”
he said. “This year I think we’re budgeted for
There’s a growing trend of aspiring
food entrepreneurs opening
new inner city groceries.
Our focus is improving
access to healthy food
inside urban neighborhoods.
Inner city corner stores are usually mom and pops
owned by immigrants from places like Mexico, Asia or
the Middle East. Relations between immigrant owners
and residents from different backgrounds can be strained.
Hundreds of stores were looted in Baltimore, including
a number of corner stores owned by Korean Americans, when rioting erupted in poor African American
neighborhoods following the April death of Freddie
Gray while in police custody. A number of those stores
participated in the Baltimore Healthy Stores program.
“It was a blow because many of them thought they had a
good relationship with the community,” Gittelson said.
“They felt betrayed.”
There may be a growing trend of aspiring food entrepreneurs opening new inner city groceries that fit into
the corner store model.
In Seattle, Carrie Ferrence and Jacqueine Gjurgevich
opened Stockbox four years ago in a modified shipping container but quickly outgrew it. Stockbox is now
located in a 2,000-square-foot building in Seattle’s First
Hill neighborhood, known locally as Pill Hill because
it’s been home to several health care facilities.
Photo courtesy of Philabundance
Manager and Chester native, Markiesha Evans, standing in the front of Fare & Square.