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'Feeling good about being a northsider': Neighbors appreciating North Market for sense of community as well as food

The first Sunday morning at North Market was a busy one, with shoppers stopping in for post-church and pre-Vikings game groceries and, for many, a first look at the long-anticipated market that opened Dec. 13 in the Webber-Camden neighborhood of north Minneapolis. 

“More than a store, it’s a home base for community health,” states the promotional materials for the refurbished former Kowalski’s at 4414 Humboldt Avenue. “North Market will provide access to healthy foods in one of the country’s largest food deserts, where 67,000 residents currently have access to 30 convenience stores, only two clinics and just one supermarket. This unique grocery store and wellness center will also create 25 retail jobs offering livable wages, and infuse the local economy with $3.6 million in revenue each year.”

“This building has been vacant for more than ten years, so people are pretty excited. We’ve been talking about this project for three years, and it took a while to raise the funds and stuff like that. The anticipation has been very, very strong,” said Vanan Murugesan, director of design and innovation at Pillsbury United Communities, the 136–year-old nonprofit that launched North Market as a way to “work with underestimated populations across Minneapolis to foster the resilience and self-sufficiency of individuals, families and community as a whole.” 

“The majority of our staff were born or currently live in north Minneapolis, and anyone who works 20 hours a week gets full-time benefits and a solid wage of $12 to $13 an hour,” said Murugesan. “So it’s more than just a store. We’re rebuilding the fabric of this community. A nice new library just opened a few months ago; the pool is just a few blocks away, so you can see this area slowly turning, and I think people are really feeling excited and feeling good about being a northsider.”

Conveniently located next door to the 220–unit senior public housing center Hamilton Manor, North Market offers healthy foods, a drop-in health clinic, and a feeling that, as one Sunday shopper put it, “we’ve got a neighborhood again.” MinnPost strolled the aisles and surveyed the shoppers:

Chanelle and Brian Klatt
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Chanelle and Brian Klatt

Chanelle and Brian Klatt. “I’ve been over here for over 25 years,” said Brian. “Before this opened, we had to run all the way to Cub Foods in Brooklyn Center. There’s no sense of community over there. I was coming here when it was SuperValu and Kowalski’s way back in the day, and it’s been 12 years since I’ve been in this building shopping. It feels good to be here. It feels like we’ve got a neighborhood again. I’ve been here four times this week, and I think it’ll be a good place for neighbors to say ‘Hi’ to each other and have a place to cross paths, and that’s important for a neighborhood because we don’t have that really anymore.” 

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Luke and Lincoln Grundman
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Luke and Lincoln Grundman

Luke and Lincoln Grundman. “This is our first time here, we live in the neighborhood, and it’s nice to have options beyond the corner market type of thing that’s been around,” said Luke. “It’s been a — what do they call it? — a ‘food desert’ for a while, so just to have the options of healthier food and my wife is very into organic food, so that will be good when they expand the options.”

Brandon and Anthony Brown
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Brandon and Anthony Brown

Brandon and Anthony Brown. “It seems like it has co-op-type prices,” said Brandon. “I would say that especially certain communities who are predisposed to diabetes and other things like that, having healthier eating habits will help, and they have a health clinic here, too, and I think that’s a good thing.” 

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Chalfauna Sanders
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Chalfauna Sanders

Chalfauna Sanders. “My mom lives in Hamilton Manor. I usually make her dinner on Sundays, so it’s lovely to have the market here now. I’m going to make her some lemon herb chicken with some smothered potatoes, some corn on the cob with some nice biscuits with a little bit of honey butter, then a lemon cake. This is my first time here, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. With this neighborhood having so many elderly in the community, it makes it a little harder to shop, especially if they don’t have vehicles, so they have to use some sort of taxi service or bus. This is walking distance, so it’s great.” 

Avionna Johnson, Avion Johnson, and Amieka Evans
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Avionna Johnson, Avion Johnson, and Amieka Evans

Avionna Johnson, Avion Johnson, and Amieka Evans. “I like it, I love it,” said Amieka. “I love the convenience of it. I was going all the way out to Maple Grove to Trader Joe’s to get my cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles and stuff like that, and now I can get it here. We live three blocks away, and my sister works here, so that’s another good thing.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Shaun Graham, Rachel Graham, Ayden Graham, and Abigail Graham
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Shaun Graham, Rachel Graham, Ayden Graham, and Abigail Graham

Shaun Graham, Rachel Graham, Ayden Graham, and Abigail Graham. “I’m super impressed,” said Rachel. “This is our first time here. We’ve been waiting for it to open since we saw it breaking ground. We actually live right at the end of Humboldt, and it’s really cool because there’s just nothing like this around here. We moved from Wisconsin and we’ve lived here since March, and I think it’s really amazing. I’m really excited about the whole wellness aspect of it and the idea that it’s not just a grocery store.”

Dureti Tesasa
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Dureti Tesasa

Dureti Tesasa. “Today is my first day in the store. It’s good. It’s close to my house, and the prices are fair, and I’ve got everything here, so I like it. In the past I went to the Brooklyn Park Cub Food, which was very far away, and this is closer and that’s good.”

Kelly Wilson
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Kelly Wilson

Kelly Wilson. “We live right over by Webber Park. We’ve been going to Aldi’s or Target for groceries, but this is a nice neighborhood grocery store that this neighborhood has needed for a number of years now. We’ve been looking on Facebook and getting excited about the grand opening and events going on, and it’s neat to see that they’re having cooking classes and decorating classes for kids and that it will really be a part of the neighborhood. Been very impressed so far.”

Terrence Watson and Tiffany McDougal
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Terrence Watson and Tiffany McDougal

Terrence Watson and Tiffany McDougal. “We needed to pick up some meat for the chili we’re making for the Vikings game, and it’s all good,” said Watson. “We live in the neighborhood, and it’s very nice and roomy and very clean,” said McDougal. “I like the natural meat selection, and it has better produce than Cub. I read a lot of the local papers like North News, and I’ve been excited about it opening, and keeping up with the news. Glad it’s finally here, we’ll be here at least once a week.”

Daniel Charles and Nicole Charles
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh
Daniel Charles and Nicole Charles

Daniel Charles and Nicole Charles. “We got some fried chicken and jojos,” said Daniel. “It’s really good for the neighborhood, because there’s a lot of seniors living here and not everybody can get to Cub Foods or Walmart without transportation.” “For me,” said Nicole, “being a mom and working and busy, to have somewhere that I can stop quickly and grab something for dinner in between everybody’s activities is really helpful.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

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Comments (2)

Great store

Looks like a great store, and I especially like their graphics, which are visually appealing and really strong. Thanks for all of the photos and interview quotes. They bring it to life.

Thanks to these shoppers

I appreciate these busy folks taking unplanned time out of their shopping trips to tell us why they find the store special.