Specialty Food Magazine

MAY-JUN 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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vnsourmtrk City Feed and Supply A neighborhood natural foods market, café and deli, City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain, Mass., pursues retailing as more than just an exchange of high-quality goods. Rather, the retailer looks at it as a way to build relationships, strengthen ties and support communities by integrating and sourcing local and regional products from small farms and artisan producers. History…When a neighborhood convenience store went out of business on Boylston Street in the Stony Brook area of Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, residents Kristine Cortese and David Warner fantasized about its replacement. The couple had in mind a mix of healthy and indulgent items as well as a place to get a great cup of coffee, a hearty sandwich and groceries for dinner—even a place to linger and catch up with friends. With no retailing experience (Cortese was a scenic painter for the- ater, and Warner a restoration carpenter) and failing to convince more qualified friends to take on their crazy idea of opening a specialty food store, they researched what it would take to do it themselves. With the help of local development resources they soon had a solid business plan, a secured lease and financing. In 2000 they opened City Feed and Supply, a moniker that paid homage to the couple's rural childhood roots. In 2008, riding on the success of the growing Boylston store that had become a destination for more than just locals, another City Feed and Supply opened on Centre Street, just over a mile away. Almost four times the size of the original and including an expanded selection of groceries with an increased emphasis on local, organic and specialty foods (the store boasts more than 600 local products and relationships with some 50 New England area farms) as well as an expanded deli menu, City Feed and Supply reflects and serves the needs of the community that sustains it. Points of Distinction…City Feed and Supply's standout feature is its product mix. "We strive to build an inclusive character for our business," Warner says. "Making it as inviting as possible with the right mix and staying true to our local economy allows us to win customers across an entire spectrum. It is a sign of the times." Though the deli and café make up 50 percent of the store's opera- tions, there is, what Warner calls, a "hybridized" mix of products. The majority of the grocery inventory is big-branded natural food items from companies like Amy's and Annie's, with a few conventional items sprinkled about. The store's cut-to-order cheese case houses only New England Farmstead cheeses. A signature specialty is pickled green tomatoes, a year-round product made by a nearby jam maker. 64 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE ❘ specialtyfood.com Warner says partnering with the local food community allows for creative sourcing and a product advantage over bigger competi- tors, while also building the store's reputation. "Local food produc- ers now come to us because they want City Feed and Supply to be the first place where they can sell their product," he says. Local fare includes produce from dozens of farmers, tofu, craft beer, soy milk, granola, kimchi and chocolate. City Feed composts all food scraps, coffee grounds, produce waste, to-go coffee cups and soup containers and prints all of its menus and fliers on 100 percent recycled paper. How It Keeps Innovating…Moving forward, City Feed will continue to be an active participant in the local food economy. It will also focus on expanding the foodservice and catering side of its business. Warner and Cortese plan to wholesale some of the store's popular deli options to other local venues, such as cafés that can't produce sandwiches on-site. Even though Centre Street is not yet at capacity, Warner says another City Feed might be in the cards. "I often ask myself, How do you give yourself a promotion when you own your own business?" he shares. "You look for ways to expand."—N.D. Year Opened: 2000 (Boylston St.), 2008 (Centre St.) Type of Business: Natural foods grocery, café, deli relationships with 50+ New England area farms, composting program Outstanding Features: More than 600 local items; Contact: cityfeedandsupply.com David Warner

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