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.
City of Wichita Food Access Strategy
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 is assisting city leaders in understanding the factors that lead to store closures, identifying national best practices for addressing “food deserts,” and evaluating potential business model innovations proposed by private enterprises. (2021)
The Food Mill Operating Model
The Food Mill will become a multifunctional food farmacy to help eliminate barriers and solve issues that lead to food insecurity in Columbus, GA. Operating from the kitchen of a local restaurant and catering business, The Food Mill will offer healthy prepared meals made with locally sourced ingredients to families that are food insecure. In partnership with MercyMed Columbus, a nonprofit healthcare clinic that is located right next door, The Food Mill will also offer medically tailored meals to give patients with diet-related diseases access to proper nutrition for their specific illness. The Food Mill will also invite neighborhood entrepreneurs to build their food businesses in its shared kitchen. New Venture Advisors developed a plan that unifies these businesses under one operating model and expands the retail footprint through a mobile market that will bring prepared meals and fresh grocery items to Columbus Housing Authority locations. (2021)
Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Market
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
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
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
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)
The Food Trust Small Store Initiative
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)