With the grand opening of Grocery Outlet on Ridge Avenue this week, Sharswood has a supermarket for the first time since the 1960s.
The lower North Philly neighborhood, which blossomed as a center for jazz in the early half of the 19th century, then watched its fortunes fall, is undergoing a massive planned revitalization. Led by the Philadelphia Housing Authority in partnership with community-minded development firms Mosaic and Shift Capital, it started in 2016 with the demolition of two old-school public housing high-rises.
Hundreds of new residential units have been built to replace them, and there are more in planning, both subsidized and market rate, along with additional retail including a bank, a deli, and a BBQ restaurant, according to PHA.
The new supermarket is the linchpin of the development, the anchor tenant.
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It’s operated by a North Philadelphia native, Donta Rose. He was working as a store designer for Grocery Outlet, he told The Inquirer, when he saw an outpost would be opening in the neighborhood where he grew up, and decided it was the perfect opportunity. He got a loan, pulled his family together for support, and launched into a new step in his career.
With shelves and shelves of fruits and vegetables and other fresh ingredients, the Grocery Outlet fills a void in Sharswood. Previously, the closest big supermarkets were around a mile away — and often expensive, like the Fairmount Whole Foods. Residents said they took public transit to do their shopping or relied on corner stores, which often lack produce and other healthy options.
At about 17,600 square feet, the new market is about the same size as the Center City Trader Joe’s. The California-based Grocery Outlet chain, which already has three other Philadelphia locations, calls itself an “an extreme-value retailer.”
It offers name brands at ultra-low prices, possible because most products are acquired by corporate shoppers in bulk at overstock sales. That means the deals and offerings on shelves change often. But the general philosophy and atmosphere remain, exemplified by the quips and quotes and cheerful sayings painted around the store: “More kale for less cabbage,” “We keep our deals fresh, so don’t be a stranger.”
Grocery Outlet Sharswood is located at 2077 Ridge Ave. (at 21st Street). It’s open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Scroll through the pics below for a preview of what you’ll find inside.