My Street Grocery caters to customers who have limited access to fresh foods.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Convenience is king for My Street Grocery, a mobile supermarket that opened in May. The truck caters to people who have limited access to fresh foods at brick and mortar supermarkets here.
“A lack of access might be the result of a long distance to a market for someone. It might be they don’t have transportation. It might be they have a physical limitation,” said Eric Johnson, My Street Grocery co-founder, in an interview last month.
Johnson noted that traveling a distance of a mile to a grocery store can be difficult for a customer in wheelchair or a single mother who has to take a bus to the store.
“One of the things that was a surprise to us, that maybe shouldn’t have been, is that a lack of access can be a result of a lack of time. There are a lot of really busy families out there who probably don’t eat the way they should simply because they feel like they don’t have time to do it,” Johnson said.
To make cooking easier for customers, My Street Grocery puts together meal kits with simple recipes.
“The meal kits have all the whole ingredients, plus a recipe card that a person needs to prepare a meal at home. It’s one price for the box of food, and it ends up being about $3 per serving. So it’s far cheaper than really most any other option out there.”
These meal kits — which come in different sizes appropriate for a family of one, two, six or eight — have been well received by customers, Johnson said.
“The Brazilian black beans and sausage is a popular one, and the interesting thing about that is that it’s popular across all different types of people — whether it’s a senior citizen or a young family or a single guy — they just seem to gravitate towards this meal kit, which is clearly our top mover.”
My Street Grocery offers three or four different meal kits at a time, such as Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Quesadilla and Flat Bread Pizza With Seasonal Vegetables.
One challenge, Johnson said, was making sure that the meal kits fit the needs of the customers in the senior communities, who may have special diets and need smaller size meals.
Products are also sold from the truck a la carte. During the summer months customers could buy items like produce, milk, eggs, bread, peanut butter, rice, meat, beans and fresh juices from racks merchandised in the back of the truck. The retailer accepts cash, credit cards or Supplemental Nutrition Access Program benefits.
By working with local wholesalers, My Street Grocery has been able to offer a lot of local fruits and vegetables. In October the retailer was selling local pears, apples and blackberries.
In October, Johnson told SN My Street Grocery was planning to winterize its operations by working with property managers to offer products inside buildings.
“We’re able to pull up to a location, wheel all of our merchandize on these racks down into an indoor location where we then offer products for sale. So we’re able to arrive at a location and be set up inside in five minutes or less.”
My Street Grocery announced in November that it was scaling back on its route to work on meal kit development. The truck now stops at two locations on Mondays for an hour to 90 minutes, according to the online schedule.
The business functions as a social enterprise, intended to support itself with its revenue.
The truck has low overhead compared to a traditional supermarket, so My Street Grocery is able to keep costs low.
“We’re better than your average grocery store, honestly, on [prices for] most items. I think some of the grocery stores give away milk and eggs and sometimes bread sometimes as loss leaders and maybe they sell them at cost,” Johnson said.
“They may be cheaper than us on certain items, but when you average your daily basket of goods, we’re very competitive with grocery stores.”
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