With a design reminiscent of what consumers would find in a for-profit supermarket, Fare & Square debuted in this metro-Philadelphia area food desert last week. The nation’s first nonprofit grocery store of its kind is housed in a former grocery building purchased by hunger relief organization Philabundance and offers nutritious food with a focus on fresh produce, fresh meats, deli, dairy, seafood, frozen foods and a full range of food staples at everyday low prices.
The new 16,000-square-foot store represents Chester’s first grocery store in more than a decade. Fare & Square gives residents of Chester — one of the 35 food deserts in the Delaware Valley according to the USDA — easy access to a full range of fresh and national and private brand foods that have not been available since its last full-scale grocer closed in 2001. Philabundance hopes to replicate this model in other communities in the Delaware Valley region.
When planning the prototype, the organization asked New York City-based CBX, the brand agency and retail design consultancy, to create an environment that would “reflect the hopeful and respectful nature of Philabundance’s goal to serve Chester residents through a store that could look at home in any community,” explained Joseph Bona, CBX president of branded environments. In the works for nearly a year, the resulting store features fixtures, lighting, flooring and other elements that would be at home in for-profit supermarkets, but includes a one-of-kind mural designed to showcase the spirit of the City of Chester.
The colorful Fare & Square logo—a simple drawing of a purple carrot with green tops attached and the words “Fare & Square” set in a rounded-corner square—designed by Philabundance and LevLane Advertising, provided CBX inspiration for the overall palette of bright green and shades of saturated purple with splashes of yellow and orange. Modern elements such as light wood and stainless steel trim round out the palette. “The palette is designed to make Fare & Square an energizing and inspiring, but comfortable, place to shop and congregate,” said Bona.
Customers entering the store will immediately see large displays of produce arrayed on tilt-style tables, while pendant lighting above the displays draws attention to its freshness and quality. A wide variety of additional fruits and vegetables can be found in fresh food fixtures lining the walls. Consistent with for-profit grocery stores, Fare & Square perimeter departments also include dairy, deli, fresh meat and seafood.
Shoppers can easily navigate the store’s central core for canned and packaged staples as well as frozen foods, thanks to hanging aisle-marker signage and enticing end-cap displays. Flooring throughout is vinyl, which is easy on both the backs and feet of employees and customers.
Near the store’s exit, a centralized checkout with multiple lanes has been designed to quickly assist shoppers through the bagging process. “In the same spirit as we welcome customers through the front door, we also wanted that last image as they exited the store to leave a positive impression,” Bona noted.
Under its not-for-profit grocery store model, Fare & Square strives to provide a customer-focused shopping experience and partners with local organizations and businesses to provide a range of services to the community in a meaningful and memorable way. “We designed a neighborhood store that’s clean, well lit, functional, convenient and friendly, but it’s also a place that the community can call their own, instilling a sense of optimism, pride and connection,” Bona summed up.
“Convenient access to nutritious food is a growing and complex problem across the country and in the Delaware Valley, and one that requires a complex solution,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of the Philadelphia-based Philabundance. “We have worked on this concept for seven years, and are thrilled to see it come to fruition to help the residents of Chester.”
Philabundance reduces hunger and food insecurity in the Delaware Valley by providing food access to people in need in partnership with organizations and individuals. Philabundance provides a full plate of services through neighborhood distribution programs and a network of close to 500 member agencies in 9 counties. Philabundance serves approximately 72,000 people per week at a cost of 50 cents per meal. There are more than 900,000 people in the Delaware Valley who are at risk for chronic hunger and malnutrition. In 2012, Philabundance distributed nearly 25 million pounds of food. For more information about Philabundance, visit www.philabundance.org or call 215-339-0900. Visit us on Facebook, Facebook.com/Philabundance and follow us on Twitter, Twitter.com/Philabundance. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please call Philabundance’s Food Help Line, 800-319-Food (3663).