There is a new corner grocery store and a new café in West Central. Parkside Grocery and the Monkey Business Café have just opened across the street from the Cannon Park Pool, and Friday they celebrate a grand opening.
Chuck Redmon, manager of Parkside Grocery, said he’s dabbled in the grocery business before but his background is in the oil business.
“We want to be a good place for the neighborhood to shop,” said Redmon. “We stock essential groceries like beans and rice and cereal, and we have fresh meat cut every day.”
One thing shoppers will not find in Redmon’s store is a lot of candy and snacks. That’s because Parkside Grocery is part of the Spokane Regional Health District’s Healthy Corner Store program.
“We already get lots of neighborhood people, and we do a good milk business,” Redmon said.
The Healthy Corner Store program is funded by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s Putting Prevention to Work program.
“It’s another program focusing on obesity prevention in low-income areas,” said Natalie Tauzin, Spokane Regional Health District health program specialist for health promotion. “It focuses on kids and access to fresh fruit and fresh food.” Tauzin explained that kids do quite a bit of purchasing on the way to school or on their way home – the tricky part is to make sure they have access to food that’s healthy for them.
Bong’s Grocery, another store in West Central, is also a Healthy Corner Store, and Tauzin said it’s been doing well after changing shelf placement of some of its wares and putting fresh fruit and other healthy snacks in kid-friendly places.
Parkside Grocery accepts Women Infants and Children program coupons.
“That’s huge,” said Tauzin. “It’s the only small store within Spokane that’s WIC-approved.”
Jocelyn Lill owns the Monkey Business Café, which is next door to Parkside Grocery and has only been open for a few weeks. Actually, Lill owns the entire building.
“I’ve been in the construction business all my life and I wanted to do something different,” said Lill, whose construction business office is in the far western part of the building. “And I wanted to do something that could be uplifting to the neighborhood.”
Monkey Business is not part of the Healthy Corner Store program, but Lill said the cafe doesn’t serve fried foods.
“We have sandwiches and salads and baked goods,” Lill said. “When the weather gets colder we may add chili or lasagna or other cold-weather foods.”
Tauzin said Spokane’s Healthy Corner Store program is modeled after a similar program in Seattle that includes almost 20 stores.
What’s in it for the stores?
“Hopefully they gain sales, and that is of benefit to the store owners,” said Tauzin. “They also gain a more positive reputation because of the foods they stock. Some people avoid convenience stores because of what they are associated with.”