Healthy food can be convenient, too
For communities without a nearby grocery store, neighborhood corner stores are the most common destination for everyday food items. Convenient and often on the way to or from school and work, both children and adults often stop by frequently for snacks. Oftentimes, corner store selections are limited to high-calorie “junk” foods with low nutritional value.
But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Bassem Kablaoui, owner of Lowry Food Market in North Minneapolis for the past 20 years, explains, “For many customers, they want to buy fresh food. Apples, oranges and bananas – they have always been popular. They pack and carry well as portable snacks, so people like them. The trouble is, you have to be able to find them in order to choose them.”
Education and experience
While Kablaoui has always stocked some staple produce items like lettuce, tomatoes and apples, he noticed some less common fresh items like mangos and avocados had difficulty selling before they spoiled. Kablaoui, who has a PhD in education, recognized the issue extended beyond just availability.
“Education is a very big part. You have to introduce some produce items over and over again, and talk about how they can use them. I took a chance on strawberries, and at first I lost three packs to spoiling. I brought them back again, and they sold right away.”
Making it better
Kablaoui keeps his produce stand and cooler directly in front of his store entrance. He also stocks recipe cards near many baskets of fresh items, hoping his customers will use them to create healthy meals at home.
After receiving a small grant from the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support to increase his stock of fresh produce, Kablaoui boosted his inventory of grapes from three to fifteen pounds and saw it sell out in three days. He recently reported a 50 percent increase in sales since expanding his stock of fresh items.
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