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East End Grocery Store Pledge

Neighbors, this is actually happening. From what John M. never thought it’d happen in his lifetime, to a strong and valued commitment to open this store in November of 2018. Hmm, lots of things happening in November huh? This is awe-inspiring, exciting, scary (a little) and hopefully a wonderful addition to the East End. Sign up for the next event this Thursday 1/25 and 6 PM here.

We’ll be running a series of articles based on the community conversations that the grocery team is having, but mainly we’d like you all think about being realistic (and grounded) about placing your hopes on this building will be. Remember, it needs to be accessible to a mixed income neighborhood. More on this later. In the meantime, check out the East End Grocery Store pledge to Church Hill and beyond:


PTG 01/23/2018 at 6:11 AM

I appreciate that they are naming, and pledging to, these things up front, and in writing. As has been discussed on many past chpn threads, starting a business in Church Hill with the intention of serving the full neighborhood, and finding a way to honor those with the lowest income/fewest resources, is incredibly challenging, but it is not impossible.

This pledge will be challenging, and they will need our support to help them carry it out. The result, I believe, will be a uniquely thriving neighborhood that could stand as a model to other neighborhoods.

Susan Haas 01/23/2018 at 7:53 AM

This is so exciting for Churchill! Thank you to all those who worked hard to make it happen!

Bill Hartsock 01/23/2018 at 9:18 AM

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a Post Office element in the plans, also. Could they, at least, sell stamps and money orders at their service desk?

Gustavo 01/23/2018 at 10:07 AM

@Bill It is definitely on the table but it’s a little more complex than they’d like it to be. If you go to one of the community meetings. Sign up for the next event here:

BAF 01/23/2018 at 12:10 PM

I see a lot of laudable goals that will also drive up their overhead and expenses out of the gate. They have to be very careful. If their costs are out of whack (paying above market wages in the pursuit of being “sustainable” being one example), they will risk not being price competitive. If they can’t compete on price, the portion of the neighborhood that can quickly access the competition—those with cars and greater disposable income—will seek lower prices and those who don’t have that economic flexibility will be the sole customer, potentially limiting profitability.

They need to have one overarching goal—what structure is needed to remain a compelling value proposition in a hyper-competitive grocery market where your more economically-lucrative customer can go to Publix, Kroger, Lidl, WalMart, Farm Fresh or Fresh Market at the drop of a hat while also making sure the store is accessible and inviting to lower-income patrons AND making money for the owners/investors. As a single unit store, they are likely to start with the economic disadvantage of not being able to make the volume purchases necessary to secure the best wholesale prices. That’s already going to put pressure on their retail pricing and cost structure.

They need to make sure they can crawl before they starting to have aspirations to fly. I hope the quality of the underlying busIness and marketing plan is as strong and as aspiration in these goals. Mr. Markel and other participants in the ownership of this store cannot fade endless losses and I have seen no indication that the store will be a non-profit cooperative—although that might be the model that could best work.

Lynn S 01/23/2018 at 4:21 PM

I suspect the Markels know exactly what they are getting into. From April 2017 Richmond Magazine: It’s not so much a money-making opportunity as a chance to help alleviate poverty in the region, according to the project’s financial backer, Steven A. Markel, the vice chairman of the Henrico-based specialty insurer Markel Corp. “This is a lot more about philanthropy for my wife [Kathie Markel] and me,” he says. “It’s a good place for community investment but not for making a lot of profit. I think dealing with Richmond’s poverty is something that’s important to do … [The project] is going to solve some problems, but there are a lot of fundamental problems that need to be dealt with. This is just a little finger in a great big dike.” Markel purposefully chose to locate the center near Creighton Court, Fairfield and Mosby Court public housing communities to help solve the food dilemma.

MP 01/23/2018 at 5:07 PM

Goal #1: not smell! Seems like a lot of the grocery stores in the area have an odor to them, so gross. Like Chimbo market, family dollar, farm fresh (coming from fish area). So off-putting when you’re buying food.

I also really hope the new grocery store caters to everyone around it, not just the lower income people. There are tons of people just a few blocks south who would love to not have to drive to carytown to have a good produce section!

Jesse English 01/23/2018 at 9:11 PM

a huge step forward hope the service standards are respectful of the community

Jen 01/24/2018 at 12:00 AM

Just a hunch, but I’d wager that poor folks would like access to a broad and reasonably priced produce selection just as much as everyone else.

Liz 01/24/2018 at 5:57 AM

@ Jen – hear hear!!!

MP 01/24/2018 at 9:45 AM

@8 and @9 I agree that everyone wants good produce – and yet pretty much ALL east end grocery stores (even the big ones like Kroger and the old Martins) have consistently worse produce than their west side versions. Farm Fresh is the worst. You buy some lettuce or grapes and have to eat them in one day before they get gross. It’s like the big companies send all their cruddy produce to the east side of town and reserve the nice stuff for the west. It’s why I shop on the west side of town when I can. Seems super unfair (and confusing).

BAF 01/24/2018 at 11:46 AM


It could also be that for some reason produce moves slower in the East End and either stays on the shelves longer or is replenished less frequently. I doubt there is someone opening boxes of grapes at the warehouse and saying, “Send those crappy grapes to Laburnum!”

MP 01/24/2018 at 4:45 PM

@12 I hope that’s the case, though the picture you paint of the warehouse manager is funny. I must be paranoid, it’s just so many things that should be standard across the west/east sides of town aren’t (post offices for example – how come we don’t have the self-serve package kiosks?).

Anna Diaz 01/25/2018 at 2:50 PM

About time!

Eric S. Huffstutler 01/27/2018 at 3:06 PM

@4 Gustavo S.
With the current events, I can say that the government has the right to break any leasing contracts on the building without penalty. This may be easier than one thinks to switch locations?

@13 MP
Take into consideration that we had self-serve stamp machines years ago that was removed due to vandalism. No one wants to come out behind that bulletproof glass to confront someone destroying property and so… no equipment left out in the open. Sad and wish it wasn’t so but if there are to be changes made, either the way things are handled need to change or, the location to make it happen?

Eric S. Huffstutler 01/27/2018 at 3:14 PM

Can someone provide a link to the new architectural plans for the complex? Or, will the plans that Scanlon paid for when it was to be Jim’s, still be used with the new project developer?

Gustavo 01/28/2018 at 4:20 PM

@16 Hey Eric, from the first meeting we went to it is still the same architectural plans for the outside of the store but not for the interior which is actively being designed based on community input. Here is an article from 2016 where John M. shared the plans

minimarket self 02/11/2018 at 11:10 PM

Everything is very open with a clear description of the issues.
It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
Thank you for sharing!


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