Earlier this month, Rachel Kingsbury took a leap into the world of entrepreneurship and opened her quirky storefront shop, The Grocery
, 3815 Lorain Avenue, riding on an indisputable impetus.
"Everyone eats," says Kingsbury as she prepares a pour-over cuppa for a customer.
True enough, but the waters run deeper than that. She elaborates: "If you go to Chicago or a European city or anywhere that's a little bigger than Cleveland, their neighborhoods are connected by having entertainment districts that meld into amenities for the people that live there: grocery stores, hardware shops, laundry services, things like that."
Ohio City is surely in that league, with it's bustling entertainment district along West 25th
Street, but why take on established giants such as the West Side Market and Dave's?
"What makes me different is I will only carry organic produce," she says. "I feel it's important to take a stand and have good food readily available."
Here in the middle of a northeast Ohio winter, most of that produce comes from the Cleveland Produce Terminal, 3800 Orange Avenue, which carries certified USDA organic fruits and vegetables. Kingsbury will add locally grown items when they become available in the fairer months.
The inviting shop is also heavy on the gourmet goodies. Try beef jerky or smoked pork rillettes from Saucisson
, an array of raviolis from Ohio City Pasta
, or cheese from Ohio Farm Fresh Direct's
grass-fed livestock. There's even Cleveland Kraut
for old-school customers.
Kingsbury worked with the city of Cleveland to secure a low percentage Neighborhood Retail Assistance Program Loan
in order to make the project a reality.
"Kevin Schmotzer of Cleveland Economic Development and his team really helped me through whole process." Specifics on the incentive are confidential.
She had another advocate, significant other Justin Carson, cofounder of Platform Beer Co
., 4125 Lorain Avenue.
"(Justin) says the difference between an entrepreneur and someone with an idea is that the entrepreneur does it." Considering Condé Nast Traveler recently mentioned
Platform's Anathema as a notable quaff in the country's #1 beer city (Cleveland), his simple advice is worth taking.
"You just have to do it," says Kingsbury.
The former employee of Town Hall, Johnny Mangos and Liquid Planet is indeed "doing it" as a steady flow of customers come into the approximately 600-square-foot space for sandwiches made with bread from the Stone Oven
, sauces and oils from the Gust Gallucci Company
, Randy's Pickles
and vegan, gluten-free cookies, granolas, and treats handmade by her sister Liz Kingsbury, who also created the shop's sprawling tree mural.
The scene, however welcoming, is not necessarily what the fresh-faced businesswoman had planned.
"When I was little," she recalls, "I wanted to be a Supreme Court judge." That's a far cry from a Lorain Avenue grocer, but Kingsbury isn't disappointed.
"This is more fun."