An Oasis in a Food Desert

Woodridge Residents Get New Food Market

Live wntertaiment hailed theopening of Good Food Markets in Washington's Woodbridge neigborhood..  Photo by Jacquelyn Johnson

Krystal Spence, her two children, ages 6 and 5, in tow, had barely made it past the front doors of the new grocery market.  She hadn’t squeezed an orange, eyed the price of the lettuce or tested a grape.  Still, the facility had already met her approval.

“Good Food Markets is already a Godsend for me,” said Spence, a lifelong resident of the northeast Washington neighborhood of Woodridge.  “It used to take me 20 minutes on the  bus to get to the grocery store and now it is only about a ten minute walk from my apartment.”

Good Food opened to anxious residents this past weekend.  Live music, balloons  and free coffee set the tone for the grand opening of the grocery store. Large groups of customers and a few local politicians, including Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, made their way around the 1000-square-foot facility in the 2000 block of Rhode Island Avenue.

The store has set out to accommodate local residents like Spence, said Kristoffer Garkin, a managing partner.

“One of our goals is to save people a trip to the supermarket while still providing well priced and quality items,” Garkin said.  

Garin said he and his partners have spent the last two years developing an accessible shopping option for a Woodridge community, which previously had no grocery locations within a mile. The result is Good Foods.  Good Foods was one of 39 businesses that received part of a  $1.3 million city grant, which helped the market get started, he said.

The market, which is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, occupies a space that was previously a soul food restaurant.

“The restaurant that was here before was an eye sore, but now this market is a place for people to shop and it’s easier on the eyes,” customer  Akua Ibrahim said as he made his way through the shelves and rows of food.

The residents who perused the store opening day said they were excited to see what the local grocery store has to offer.

“I love it,” Woodridge resident Serena Flint said.  “Its convenient, cute, affordable and above all, fresh. It is really nice to see a store like this in the community.”

The store has fresh and organic produce, meat and other grocery items, including a bakery.    In partnership with the non-profit DC Central Kitchen, the store also offers a fresh meals-to-go section.

Residents browsed the ailes of fesh produce and food in the new market, an oasis in an otherwise "food desert." Photo by Jacquelyn Johnson

The owners are eager to hear from the community to ensure they are providing what their clientele desire, as well as eradicating the possible misperception  misconception that the store is a specialty store or that it is really expensive, Garin said.

“One of our goals is to get shoppers to tell us what they want to see in the store, so that we can really be able to save them a trip to the larger grocery stores,” he said  “The modern supermarket industry is a volume and cost efficient business. Grocery stores used to be a relationship business. Our goal is to provide strong value but to also bring the relationship back in.”

No one is more excited about the presence of the new market than Spence.

“More than anything, I think Good Food Markets being in Woodridge shows that someone is paying attention to the community’s needs and most times, people don’t feel like anyone is.” she said.