“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
— Henry David Thoreau
Doing good means breaking new ground.
Village Market is breaking new ground in the New Columbia neighborhood of north Portland. They’re trying and succeeding to bring fresh produce, low prices, and healthy foods into a neighborhood in which a third of it’s residents depend on public transportation. All the while doing it as a non-profit.
Ed, our tour guide and co-founder of Village Market, is as impassioned about this grocery store as he is about his tomatoes. He took the time to explain to our Teamworks volunteer team the history of the store, the goals, the business model, and the people it serves.
They are building a full grocery store and deli from scratch, housing it in a cramped space the size of a 7-11, and giving the neighbors of this revitalized neighborhood something to be proud of – healthy choices, quality foods, low prices, and all within walking distance.
This is a well-organized endeavor. From Ed’s description, they are thinking every step of this project through, looking for self-sustainability within three years. They just celebrated their first anniversary in May, marking not just the end of a business year, but of several years of planning and hard-work. They asked themselves questions like,
- Where would initial funding come from?
- How can they acquire and sell fresh produce at a price point that works?
- What is affordable in this neighborhood?
- When should the deli open?
- Who are our core partners/employees/volunteers?
- Why are we in business?
I get the impression that unlike large, retail grocery chains, the answer to the last question hangs over every decision they make. They are here to serve a lively immigrant community which speaks 26 languages in an area where the nearest fresh food is miles away. That’s a big deal when you are a mother with a family and have to bring four kids on the bus to do your shopping.
The biggest thing they need is more shoppers to help them achieve self-sustainability. Could that be you?
Here’s a few reasons you should go out of your way to shop at Village Market (4632 N Trenton St, Portland, OR):
- The prices are cheap. Ed claims, and I can confirm, that the prices are as low as any chain grocery store.
- The deli is a bargain, and judging from the expressions on my fellow Teamworks’ volunteers, delicious.
- Your dollar goes farther. The monthly revenue of the Village Market is low? Your $50 dollars is a huge portion of their bottom line. Think Safeway would miss your business if you left?
- They’re friendly, helpful, and most are volunteers. They want to be there. They want to help you.
- The art work is fun, lively and made locally.
- It’s safe, clean, and well-managed.
- The neighborhood is lively and bustling, full of children and families.
- Everything is brought in fresh including produce from organic growers and bread from great local bakeries like Grand Central Bakery. I can attest that my apple was juicy and sweet.
- It’s unique, quaint, and not-for-profit.
If supporting local enterprise, helping working-class, immigrant families, and making your dollar go farther in your community is important, then swing by the Village Market.
Ask for Ed. Tell him the Teamworks folks sent you.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Kicked off a month-long volunteering project with a dozen other like-minded volunteers through Hands On Portland’s Teamworks project. I’ll be writing more about the group as we volunteer in neighborhoods across the city.