BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — The Greater Good Grocery store on Binghamton’s Northside opened earlier this year. For 25 years, that part of the city has been designated a food desert with no access to fresh food.
“Now, the only thing I don’t buy here is meat,” said Northside resident Kim Cole, who shops at the store weekly. “Other than that, this store fits all my needs.”
The store has produce, eggs, milk, dried goods, spices, frozen foods and paper products, but fresh meat is the major item it is lacking. They buy from wholesalers and try to price everything below market value.
Jack Seman, Greater Good Grocery’s General Manager, explained he does not want to stock an item if it will be at a prohibitive cost.
“We are a business, we do need to make a profit. If us making a profit makes that item prohibitively costly, there really isn’t much of a point of having it in here,” Seman said. “It’s really just about finding the right vendor with the right cost, the right price so we can serve the community with something that is reasonably priced.”
Over 7,000 customers have shopped at Greater Good since they opened January 4, above the projected numbers for the entire first year. Funding for the store is covered for the first three years, but Seman hopes Greater Good Grocery will be self-sufficient before then.
Because it is a small store, he is able to speak with a lot of their customers.
“It’s great speaking with a customer, someone who lives on the Northside, who reports that they’re no longer dependent on certain medication because of access. Maybe they’re walking here,” Seman said.
The store is run by the Broome County Council of Churches. It partners with the Rural Health Network’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program. Healthcare providers can prescribe a person a healthy diet, then that person gets vouchers to redeem for fruits and vegetables at the store.
According to the Council of Churches, a little more than 12-thousand people live on the Northside, but the store is open for anyone to shop.
Seman sees this first year as an opportunity to learn more about what food people want and other needs of the community. There is a desire for extended hours, which they plan to accommodate. For now the store is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.