by Brendan Crain, Ariel Diamond and Arline Welty
photos by Brendan Crain

You like your neighborhood. You want to see the local independent businesses that make your neighborhood unique stay and thrive. You want to be able to buy a good banana at 6 am and 6 pm any day of the week. You want to be sure that people of all incomes and ages can live and eat well in your neighborhood. Then you probably want a healthy corner store culture in your neighborhood. But how? (Especially if you're busy or perhaps lazy -- we're in that not so secret society.)

Neighbors Project has drawn on the experience of the Food & Liquor project in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, and similar efforts around the country, to provide you with a range of options for tuning your corner stores into a thriving community asset for everyone in your neighborhood as a series of two Instructables. This one is ...

Level 2: How to Increase Produce in Your Store
In a few rare cases, you might be able to just ask your store owner to carry produce once and it'll appear the next week. But usually you'll need to do some research and work closely with the store owner to ensure that they'll be successful. Keep in mind that your average corner store has a very small profit margin, so they're conservative about business changes. Yes, this is ultimately a business decision; not an ideological crusade.

To do this Instructable, you will need:
- At least one corner stores (aka liquor store, bodega, convenience store, fruit market or meat market)
- Money to buy groceries
- Access to a computer

The people behind the Food & Liquor project are just some of the many people and organizations around the country who have worked on increasing food access in their neighborhoods. Check out the list of groups and resources at the bottom of this page for even more resources and advice.

Step 1: Do Background Research

We definitely don't recommend simply barging into your local store, pounding your fist on the counter and bellowing "BANANAS!!!" Beyond the fact that you run the risk of being banned from the store and perhaps arrested, you're not likely to actually get any bananas. That said, you don't need a phD in food access to make things happen. We suggest that you look into these three areas before you begin talking to your store owner. (Though you should get used to small talking before you ever bring up the topic; it'll help, and probably make your shopping more fun.)

-- Research other food-focused groups in the area. Meet with them to familiarize yourself with the local food landscape and make sure that you are not duplicating their efforts or otherwise stepping on their toes. If they're already working on the issue, ask them how you can help.

-- Determine the food landscape of your neighborhood by finding out where stores get their food. Is everyone in the area using the same distributor, are they buying it from a grocery store and marking up, or from a wholesale produce market? How many stores are in your area? Which are providing produce, and which aren't? Are multiple stores owned by the same people? You'll want to be well-informed before addressing store owners on their turf. (We can't give you the answers because they vary by location.)

-- Look into business incentives. For example, business improvement loans or grants through your alderman, city council, or local representative's office. Don't be afraid to contact your representative directly to find out what resources are available and may be going unused. As you're doing this, look for official institutional partners for the project. Ask them to sign on.
go sox
Yay, Bananas! And the Cubs banner in the background is certainly a plus!!
by a plus you mean minus, right?
Excellent!! I think this is great!! Local change for the better on a local level. I would say many shop owners would do this, but they don't have the time for the extra legwork. Great Idea!!!!!
I just read about a group at Johns Hopkins who is working toward something similar. They seem to be focused on removing barriers that keep people from having access to healthy foods. They have a website called <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.healthystores.org/BHS.html">Baltimore Healthy Stores</a>. <br/>
Good work! There's a lot of great information here.
Nice!!!! Very good idea and such an in depth instructable =) Very well done, I think I just might have to do this!<br/>

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