Last year at the Slow Money Gathering in San Francisco, I was really impressed with a presentation that I heard from one of the founders of Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery in Washington. Her idea was simple and innovative — retrofit shipping containers to sell healthy food and produce in underserved neighborhoods. The easily portable container could be placed in industrial areas and regions where food deserts now prevail, instantly providing better access to fresh groceries.
This is how the creators of Stockbox, Carrie Ferrence and Jacqueline Gjurgevich, describe their company’s vision on their website:
“Stockbox believes that good food provides a space for community to come together. Please join us in celebrating these relationships, stories, and opportunities to thrive.
Our small format stores are placed throughout urban areas, to offer fresh produce, meal solutions, and grocery staples. We place mainstream staples, alongside organic products, and source produce from local farms when possible. Grab-and-go options in meals and snacks make it easy to shop, with selection changing frequently so there’s always something new to explore. We offer loyalty programs, recipes, and specials. Pricing is affordable – competitive with local grocery stores and below convenience stores. And we put a big focus on inviting design, so that the store can become part of the community.”
Healthy Food for People & Profit
The small business believes that providing healthy food to underserved neighborhoods is an economically viable model. What initially started out inside a single shipping container plopped down in a parking lot, has evolved into a mini store. Today Stockbox is opening their very first storefront food shop at 2012 at 8520 14th Ave South in Seattle.
KPLU reported that although the company did receive a modest grant from King County to initially help get started, Stockbox is designed to make a profit. Ryan Kellogg of Public Health Seattle & King County offered his insight into the new business venture:
“Stockbox is a for-profit company, trying to prove healthy foods can survive without public subsidies in poor neighborhoods. They did get startup assistance from King County, in the form of an $11,700 grant and connections to a lender.
That was a tiny part of a two-year federal stimulus grant that is just expiring, called Communities Putting Prevention to Work. It tried to push vegetables and fruits in King County neighborhoods such as this one, with bad health profiles.”
For more information about Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery, please visit their website: stockboxgrocers.com.