Independent rural grocery stores are facing challenges and going out of business at a rapid rate. But these stores also have tremendous assets: loyalty from longtime customers who want to see their community thrive; owners and operators who are local residents and care deeply about the health and economic well-being of their town; and infrastructure – large buildings, food processing kitchens, and excess storage, to name a few.

New Venture Advisors helps communities identify opportunities to build, strengthen or repurpose grocery stores in their local food systems. We help local grocery store owners revise their business strategies to remain relevant, beneficial forces in their community and the local economy.

See our grocery projects below, and visit our Publications page to view our reports.


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New Venture Advisors is a team of business consultants specializing in local food system planning and new enterprise development.

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Grocery Projects

Wisconsin Food Banks Grocery Card Study

Milwaukee, WI

To give neighbors more access, choice, and fresh food, two Wisconsin food banks are exploring alternate payment systems so neighbors can purchase food from their local grocery stores and other retailers, especially in rural communities. Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin and Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin have been awarded a grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation for the project. The tool would be implemented across their combined 35 counties and ideally scale statewide across Wisconsin, and beyond. New Venture Advisors is assisting in discovering feasible technologies and partnerships for this ambitious venture. (2024)

Southern Illinois Mobile Market Feasibility Study

Chicago, IL

Faith in Place empowers people of diverse faiths and spiritualities to be leaders in advancing environmental and racial justice, providing resources to educate, connect, and advocate for healthier communities. The organization has a history of working with sustainable food systems throughout the state of Illinois and is leading an initiative to develop a network of mobile markets in the southernmost 17 counties to assess the feasibility of a mobile market. The program will be a collaboration with Food Works and LEAF Food Hub to improve access to food while also supporting local food producers in these rural areas of the state. New Venture Advisors conducted a feasibility study to assess the needs, partners, and locations necessary for this mobile market network and  created a plan and toolkit to support the expansion of the network. (2024)

Winchendon Grocery Development

Winchendon, MA

Growing Places and HEAL Winchendon are nonprofit organizations working to improve the health of residents in Winchendon through healthy food access and the food system as a whole. The town has not had a full service grocery store since IGA closed after a dollar store, convenience store and drug chain moved in nearby. New Venture Advisors recently completed a feasibility study that found strong community support, several viable distributor models, and the potential for sales to sustain operations, depending on occupancy costs and other factors that ultimately determine how well a particular store performs. A promising site has been identified downtown. The next steps are to evaluate the facility’s suitability for a grocery store and generate more specific sales projections for that site. If this analysis is positive, a business plan and conceptual design will be completed to invite investors to help the community bring a full service grocery store back to Winchendon. (2023)

Crow Innovation Center Feasibility Study

Crow Agency, MT

The Crow Indian Reservation has been without a nearby source for food since the local grocery store burned down a few years ago. Plenty Doors Community Development Corporation engaged New Venture Advisors to conduct a feasibility study for a grocery store to be located on the Reservation, as part of an innovation center that will also include a shared kitchen and incubation space for small businesses in two newly renovated buildings.  The study determined how the components would be situated and function across two buildings in development, and the  financial requirements for construction and ongoing operations. NVA also supported outreach to the community to determine a viable model and validate interest in the grocery store and incubation spaces, considering alternative formats like those appearing around the country as rural towns invent new pathways to food security. (2023)

Healthy Corner Store Initiative Program Design

Wichita, KS

The City of Wichita and Sedgwick County conducted a food system planning process led by New Venture Advisors (NVA) from 2020-2021. The community-driven City of Wichita/Sedgwick County Food System Master Plan recommended utilizing a variety of tools to increase access to healthy food. In particular, there was strong support for partnering with existing food businesses to improve access to healthy food in Wichita’s food desert neighborhoods. Therefore, the City of Wichita allocated American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to create a Healthy Corner Store Initiative for the city of Wichita. To support this initiative, NVA partnered with The Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization that has pioneered healthy corner store and “small store” programs throughout the country. Together, NVA and The Food Trust designed a Healthy Corner Store Initiative Pilot Program, developed a draft program budget, and participated in the city’s RFP process to identify an implementing organization. (2023) Download plan here.

Shawnee Grocery Study

Shawnee, OK

Pogo is a community-wide wellbeing initiative that works to impact long term health outcomes by supporting health interventions throughout the fabric of the community. Pogo focuses efforts on individuals, worksites, and policy, specifically food policy, and engages representatives from tribal nations, government, education, healthcare, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations to steer its work. Through a technical assistance grant from the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, New Venture Advisors assisted Pogo in identifying feasible solutions to their food access challenges and organizing the group’s momentum around several promising models. (2022)

City of Wichita Food Access Strategy

Wichita, KS

Like many urban areas across the U.S., the City of Wichita is grappling with yet another closure of a grocery store in one of its low-income neighborhoods. The pandemic has shown that affordable access to nutritious food is critical and yet access to full service grocery is scant in several Wichita neighborhoods. New Venture Advisors assisted city leaders in understanding the factors that lead to store closures, identified national best practices for addressing “food deserts,” and evaluated potential business model innovations proposed by private enterprises. (2021)

Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Market

Fargo, ND

For 36 years, the Great Plains Food Bank has been working to end hunger across North Dakota and western Minnesota. As the only food bank in this service area, they distribute more than 12 million meals annually to over 102,000 food insecure residents through a number of innovative programs. New Venture Advisors assessed the viability of a new initiative: a mobile market that serves communities across the state that lack a grocery store. The market would operate as a social enterprise, deploying the assets, staff and know-how of their existing mobile food pantry program as a for-profit business that sells fresh and shelf-stable food sourced through the central food bank and purchased from farms and food makers in retail market locations. (2020)

Central Massachusetts Food Co-op Market Study

Worcester, MA

Central Mass Grown (CMG) is exploring the establishment of a local food cooperative grocery store in Worcester, MA. As the Buy Local organization for Worcester County, CMG received grant funding to research and plan for the creation of a food co-op that would source its inventory from local producers and invite membership from local farmers, makers and shoppers. New Venture Advisors conducted a market study to assess the market feasibility of a new co-op food store within the Worcester city limits. (2019)

Kansas Statewide Food Distribution Study

Topeka, KS

The Sunflower Foundation: Health Care for Kansans directs resources toward helping Kansans and Kansas communities achieve and maintain optimal health. Access to fresh food in the many rural communities across the state is of chief concern as grocery stores continue to shutter in small towns. Together with the Rural Grocery Initiative at K-State, Sunflower and New Venture Advisors assessed the food distribution landscape in Kansas to propose innovative, alternative strategies that will provide critical support to rural grocery stores throughout the state of Kansas. (2018)

Rural Grocery Food Hub Assessment

Beloit, KS

The North Central Regional Planning Commission of Kansas spearheaded a study to support rural growers, consumers and grocery stores in North Central Kansas. Its vision was to assist rural grocery stores in establishing a local food hub within their operation to bring them additional revenue, provide new sources of revenue for local producers, and bring more local agricultural products into the community. New Venture Advisors led the study, which began with grocery store owners conducting self-assessments using NVA’s Rural Grocery HubSizer® tool. (2017)

Rural Grocery Store Initiative

Kansas, Iowa, Michigan

Rural grocery stores are closing at an alarming rate. This study explored the feasibility of adapting these stores into food hubs, providing additional revenue streams and an additional inducement for distributors to service these remote locations to prevent closings. Funded in part through the USDA, New Venture Advisors conducted baseline feasibility analysis with 4 stores in 3 states. Results were published throughout 2016. (2016)

Read the report here.

The Food Trust Small Store Initiative

Philadelphia, PA

New Venture Advisors assisted The Food Trust in conducting a national scan of distribution networks that serve small stores such as corner stores, bodegas, convenience stores, fuel-based retail and rural grocers. The project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, examined the supply chain that moves food from production to the point of consumption to better understand the barriers in bringing fresher and more nutritious foods to small stores. (2016)

Read the report here.

 Whatcom County Food System Plan

In 2021, the Whatcom County Food System Committee conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors partnered with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan focuses on five key goals for building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system, and was informed by an inclusive community engagement process. The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2023)

 Whatcom Local Food Campus

The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a collaborative production kitchen benefitting food access, school system, and community organizations. The goal is strengthening Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. The facility will also feature an incubation kitchen, demonstration kitchen, event and classroom space, collaborative office and conference facilities, and housing.  New Venture Advisors developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)