We don’t know whether it’s true, but it sure feels like people are eating healthier these days. Farmer’s markets have proliferated all over the city and it seems that every coffee shop in town offers a CSA pickup. Whole Foods opened a huge new location at the end of last year, and we’re getting a Sprouts in the very near future. $10 smoothies are a thing, and the places that sell them aren’t going out of business. The mind reels.
Farmer’s markets are great on the weekend and big supermarkets can be a time suck (especially with the stocked bar at the new Whole Foods), so the way we see it, there’s a bit of a hole in the market when it comes to quick and easy fresh food access within the neighborhoods. We aren’t alone in this opinion, with the owner of Riverwards Produce very much on the same page. This store is opened a few months ago at 2200 E. Norris St., and we finally made our way over there a few days ago. We came away really impressed.
Riverwards Produce first opened last year in a small garage on Tulip Street, but quickly outgrew their space. In April, they moved into their current home on Norris Street, in a building we’ve written about a few times before. Back in 2012, when it was listed for sale, we told you a little about its history. Originally it was built as a fire house, then it turned into a post office, before being taken over by an army surplus business. Most recently, it housed a motor repair company for many years. By the summer of 2014, developers were planning 9 apartments on the upper floors with retail downstairs, and it wasn’t until this year that the retail space was finally occupied.
It may have taken some time to fill this retail space, but this tenant should stick around for the long haul. When we walked around the store the other day, we were not only surprised by the selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, but we were also caught off guard by the prices, which were in many cases lower than those at large supermarkets. It seems that the business has a wholesale arm as well, which allows them to negotiate prices down for their retail customers. Not only does the store offer produce, but it also has a collection of dry goods and assorted meats, cheeses, and vegan items to boot. The space is on the smaller side, around 2,000 sqft, but the number of offerings made it feel larger (as did the high ceilings). If you’d like to get a real sense of the stuff they’re selling, check out their Instagram feed, it’s on point. Better yet, visit the store and buy something.
We don’t have any understanding of the fundamentals of the grocery business, so we can’t even speculate whether Riverwards Produce is scalable or whether it would only work as a single location. We’re hoping it’s the former, as several other neighborhoods around town would benefit from a similar store. Wouldn’t a place like this make all kinds of sense at the triangle at 6th & Christian? Or on Point Breeze Avenue? Or in Brewerytown?