by Nikia Brown
Parkside is an emerging community bustling with residents, businesses, and culture aficionados. It has undergone a number of transitions over the past several decades and continues to welcome changes that positively impact the community. One change, in particular, is the addition of the Brown family ShopRite located at 1575 N. 52nd. Street. Prior to the arrival of Brown’s ShopRite in 2008, the community was a food dessert with little to no access to fresh groceries or produce. In 2002, the Brown family partnered with the state’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative to bring healthy groceries to inner city neighborhoods. Brown’s Shop Rite was the answer to a 20-year cry for food justice in the Parkside community.
ShopRite Supermarkets is a co-operative chain of supermarkets that span across six northeastern states: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. With eleven stores in and around the Philadelphia area, the Brown’s pride themselves on a commitment to four brand pillars: authentic products, affordability, community responsibility, and the promise of an enjoyable shopping experience. The store has strong ties with local organizations such as the Parkside Business Association, Parkside Community Association, and Please Touch Museum.
“It is important to understand the people we serve and what’s going on in the community,” says Paul Brauer, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Brown Superstores.
By summer 2016, the Brown family intends to take the promise of an enjoyable shopping experience to a new level. Soon, the store will break ground on an innovative development plan that will include a 15, 000 square feet expansion toward Lowes. “With the rise of e-commerce, there is a need for more of a destination and entertainment space,” explains Brauer.
The development will encompass an upstairs mezzanine with 165 seats, stage, and sound system for live musical performances. Brown’s ShopRite will partner with Settlement Music School and 23rd Street Jazz Café to display a wide array of local talent. “The stage will be a place for people to practice their craft,” says Brauer.
There will also be a Chef’s table upstairs that will offer food for guests during performances as well as cooking classes for interested community members.
Patrons will have the option to dine and wine on the mezzanine or enjoy an open beer garden on the lower level. Other attractions include an open flame grilled chicken station, salad bar, and more food options.
“We want to bring more of a higher end experience at an affordable cost,” enthuses Brauer. “People want more places to go that are safe and inexpensive.”
The Brown family is endeavoring to do something that no other grocery store has done before. In addition to the many new attractions, Philadelphia’s only black owned talk radio station, WURD, will be making Brown’s ShopRite its new home. “This is the first time that a local supermarket has incorporated a stage, sound system, and broadcasting station,” prides Brauer. With the aim of becoming a one-stop destination for their 2-3 mile customer base, the store will also add a health clinic, pharmacy, and nutritionist.
This development will not only bring a new flare to the neighborhood, but also more employment opportunities for community members. Brauer predicts a rise from 280 to 300 job associates. He has a very positive outlook on the project and is eager to unveil Parkside’s coming inner city attraction.