ore and more people, especially the younger generations, are becoming more conscious about the food they eat and where they buy it from. It could be the still-soaring obesity rate in this country, which without the continuous news briefs would still be jarringly evident. It could be the growing collaborative stream of consciousness resulting from more public eduction on “green”/sustainable living like food labeling, ad campaigns, books and film (Fast Food Nation, Food, Inc.). For all I know it could simply be a fad.
Regardless, the demand for restaurants/dry good stores that offer healthier items is more present than ever. People want to be able to live in a neighborhood where they can frequent a place that sells organic products, fresh/local foods, gourmet goods, etc. And if you happen to live in a city (of course many young people do), these places need to be walkable. And if you happen to live in Baltimore, they’re usually not (if they’re there at all). In the case of Federal Hill, for example, 7-Eleven, CVS and Royal Farms have become the go-to destinations to meet these needs. And when you look at what those stores do offer, they’re really not (although CVS has taken the hint and begun to sell a number of products that are “natural and organic”).
And there’s no denying the lack of alternatives has meant more profit for these generic quick-grab stops. Just walk into any of the three previously mentioned businesses and see what kind of sales they’re doing. Even though Harris Teeter recently opened its doors in Federal Hill (basically Locust Point), you can’t walk there from the residential pockets where most people live! People don’t want to get in their cars and drive through the city. And walkable doesn’t mean miles…it means a few blocks. Hampden primarily offers two options: The Giant at the Rotunda (maybe the most unkempt, shoddy Giant in the country) or the relatively new Fresh & Green’s, which walking into reminded me of Post Cold War Russia.
A smart businessman/woman would see the potential for a start-up in this “new”, niche market, be it great prepared foods, gourmet items, local/organic produce, etc. Places like Gourmet Again in Pikesville do it right, but 9 out of 10 times, these places are only accessible to the car-driving pedestrians of the suburbs. There are great opportunities for an experienced operator in neighborhoods like Federal Hill, Fells Point and Hampden. Think Whole Foods, but shrunk down to 6,000 SF, keeping the prepared food section the same size, and including a beer/wine selection. JBL Real Estate has listings available to meet the need, AND the ability to help build the business, market the business, so it can grow. And rents are low. Give us a call if you want to find out how we can help you to help meet the community’s needs.