Grocery store making a comeback in Chester, Pa.

September 27, 2012 5:22:03 PM PDT
An empty building along West 9th Street in Chester will soon be transformed into something it already has been.

When it opens in the spring of next year, the Fare and Square will become this Delaware County city's first grocery store in 11 years.

"In any urban community in 2012, you have some issues of safety and danger and so forth. I think more than that, they wanted to be sure they could survive economically," said Chester Mayor John Linder.

Crime and poverty have plagued Chester to this day, and many here are hopeful a new business model will make this grocery store work.

Philabundance, the non-profit food pantry, purchased the property, and plans to renovate and stock it using government funds and private donations.

Philabundance says this will be the first non-profit grocery store in the country, and that two things allow that to happen.

For one, there is simply no competition nearby. And number two, they don't have to worry about turning a profit.

"We're only interested in going into areas where there has never been, or where there's a real void. This area is a food desert as defined by the USDA," said Bill Clark of Philabundance.

Just three years ago, Chester was heralding the opening of a farmer's market. That closed last year.

Residents are hopeful that this time, the economics for Fare and Square will be different.

"A market where we can get fresh vegetables, fresh meats," said resident Ramona Montgomery. "I'm sure everyone in this neighborhood will welcome that. Everyone in this city."

The Fare and Square will employ members of the community, it will accept memberships, and Philabundance says profits will go to improvements and lower prices.


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