A new 16,000-square-foot grocery store in Chester, Pa., is the city’s first in a decade. And although it boasts a design reminiscent of what consumers would find in a for-profit supermarket, the store — which made its debut in late September — is claiming to be the first nonprofit grocery store of its kind.
Fare & Square opened in a former grocery building purchased by hunger relief organization Philabundance. It gives residents of Chester — one of 35 food deserts in the Delaware Valley, according to the USDA — easy access to a full range of fresh and nutritious national brand and private label foods, said CBX, a New York-based brand agency and retail design consultancy involved with the store’s development. The store places a special focus on offering fresh produce and meats, deli, dairy, seafood, frozen foods and a full range of food staples at everyday low prices.
Philabundance hopes to replicate this model in other communities in the Delaware Valley region.
When planning the prototype, the organization asked CBX 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. It also boasts a one-of-kind mural designed to showcase the spirit 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, CBX stated.
“The palette is designed to make Fare & Square an energizing and inspiring, but comfortable, place to shop and congregate,” Bona said.
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, CBX noted. 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 easily can 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, CBX explained. 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, CBX said.
“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 pointed out.
Bill Clark, president and executive of Philadelphia-based Philabundance, noted that the project has been in the works for a number of years, and he’s glad to see it fully built.
“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,” Clark said. “We have worked on this concept for seven years, and are thrilled to see it come to fruition to help the residents of Chester.”