New Sault Ste. Marie grocery store: Grocer 4 Good
A new grocery store is set to open this fall in Sault Ste. Marie.
It will offer marginalized groups some employment skills and support. This includes people with autism, intellectual disabilities, and members of chronically unemployed groups.
The store, Grocer 4 Good, is opening on Gore Street and will also work to address the food security issue in the Soo's downtown area.
It's the idea of Lisa Vezeau-Allen, a city councillor in Sault Ste. Marie who has a 16-year-old son with autism, came up with the idea.
"This is really not just about me being an autism mom. It's really about creating an environment for a very larger group of people to both have a positive work experience [and] give back to the community," said Vezeau-Allen.
The store will be located across the street from the Neighbourhood Resource Centre and is easily accessible to those who take transit.
Vezeau-Allen says she chose a grocery store because there are various roles needed.
"If they're super social, if they're not social, and would rather be in a quieter environment. So, I think really that grocery store model can fit with a bunch of different tasks and different ability levels, so we create an environment for success," said the councillor.
Grocer 4 Good is also expected to improve food security by addressing what some call a 'food desert' in the downtown area since Walmart closed. A food desert is an urban area where it is difficult to find affordable or good-quality fresh food.
Mike Delfre is the director of operations for Harvest Algoma.
"When Lisa proposed her market, she located it strategically in the middle of the food desert to deal with that problem. So, it's a good start," said Delfre
Harvest Algoma will be supplying the store with the food it grows in its greenhouses and gardens, as well as with community donations it acquires.
"We are a retail establishment. You know, our goods will be for sale, but anything that is donated will be 'pay what you can.' The goal is that we'll be revenue-neutral. We need to be able to sustain operations," said Vezeau-Allen.
Grocer 4 Good will sell all of the essentials including: toiletries, cleaning supplies, dairy products, and fresh produce, all at affordable prices.
The store is set to have a grand opening in December.