ST. PAUL NOTES | Groceries on the East Side of St. Paul: Who's there, who's coming

Scroll down for interactive map showing grocery stores. 

A couple of weeks ago, the Newsroom Café group meeting at Dayton's Bluff Community Council talked about groceries in the neighborhood. By now, most folks have heard that Mississippi Market plans to move in on Seventh Street, just north of Metro State University and across the street from Swede Hollow Café. But what's the current grocery situation, and what will they add to the mix?

Generally, said Tong Thao, people at a recent meeting were "pretty positive about Mississippi Market coming over here. ... The only thing is — the food's going to be more expensive. There were people questioning why we want a grocery store that people can't afford. The only answer was that it brings choice."

He compared it to the little Latino grocery stories, saying that because of their existence, "Rainbow had to start handling some of the foods they had, in response."

As the discussion went around the table, other issues were raised. The vacant lot looks bigger than one grocery store space, and, said one of the people around the table, the city wants a big apartment building. But the neighborhood wants to build up retail, not apartments.

I asked where people shop now, and the answers showed quite a few existing groceries, some on bus lines, some far enough away that it's tough to get there and back without a car. The map above shows the groceries that were identified in this discussion, and there could be more that I missed.

While Mississippi Market will have more organic and locally grown foods, "I don't know how they're going to appeal to the diverse communities of the East Side," said one of the people at the table. "We have all the markets here — the Latino markets, the Asian markets. How are they going to attract crowds and compete with that?"

Mississippi Market has a website telling about their plans, which describes the future co-op:

"Plans for the project include a 11,500 sq ft retail space on East 7th Street and will house a commissary kitchen to support our delis and wholesale operations. Currently we employ 180 people between our two locations and will bring new jobs to the area, furthering our mission of creating positive change in the community by influencing the production, distribution and enjoyment of food."

What do you think about the plans, and about groceries and food needs on the East Side?

POINT(114.177987 22.321702)

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    Mary Turck's picture
    Mary Turck

    Mary Turck (maryturck [at] gmail [dot] com) is a freelance writer, editor, teacher, and lifelong activist, and former editor of the TC Daily Planet.

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    Mississippi Market's working to make stores more accessible

    As the marketing manager at Mississippi Market, I'm so happy to hear that people are talking about our plans to open a location on East 7th St! We know that there are plenty of Latino and Asian markets in the area and that they play an important part of the neighborhood. While there may be some cross-over, our product selection offers different choices, like your article mentioned. That said, in the coming months, we will also be meeting with community groups from diverse backgrounds to help inform us on products and services that everyone would expect us to have on our shelves. We're interested in complementing existing small businesses, rather than competing.

    To comment on the concerns about pricing, I wanted to share that we are working to make our products more accessible to shoppers of every budget. Just in February, we launched our new LIME program which allows shoppers on limited incomes to become member-owners for only $12 (one-time payment), after which they'll receive a 10% discount on their groceries every time they shop. To learn if you qualify for the LIME discount visit: http://msmarket.coop/ownership/lime/

    Currently, we accept SNAP and WIC and we are also working on a program that would enable us to keep everyday essential items at extra low prices. These programs are some of the ways that we are working to be more inviting to everyone. We look forward to getting to know our new neighborhood!

    Mississippi Market's plans for East 7th

    As the marketing manager at Mississippi Market, I'm so happy to hear that people are talking about our plans to open a location on East 7th St! We know that there are plenty of Latino and Asian markets in the area and that they play an important part of the neighborhood. While there may be some cross-over, our product selection offers different choices, like your article mentioned. That said, in the coming months, we will also be meeting with community groups from diverse backgrounds to help inform us on products and services that everyone would expect us to have on our shelves. We're interested in complementing existing small businesses, rather than competing.

    To comment on the concerns about pricing, I wanted to share that we are working to make our products more accessible to shoppers of every budget. Just in February, we launched our new LIME program which allows shoppers on a limited income to become member-owners for only $12 (one-time payment), after which they'll receive a 10% discount on their groceries every time they shop. To learn if you qualify for the LIME discount visit: http://msmarket.coop/ownership/lime/  Currently we accept SNAP and WIC and we are also working on a program that would enable us to keep everyday essential items at extra low prices. These programs are some of the ways that we are working to be more inviting to everyone. We look forward to getting to know our new neighborhood!