Inside a FRESH Supermarket: Super Fi Emporium
Do you live in a FRESH neighborhood?
The FRESH program, which stands for Food Retail Expansion to Support Health, was created in 2009 to provide nutritious, affordable, fresh food options to underserved communities. Zoning and financial incentives are available to eligible grocery store operators and developers as a way to encourage neighborhood grocery stores to renovate existing retail space in communities needing more healthy food options.
Since launching, a total of 20 FRESH projects have been approved—five have been approved for zoning benefits and nine have completed construction. In total, these supermarkets are expected to provide more than 596,000 square feet of new or renovated space, and create over 940 new jobs.
Beyond the numbers, what are the real benefits of going FRESH? Let's visit one of the supermarkets, Super Fi Emporium, and hear from the owner!
Store name: Super Fi Emporium, 1635 Lexington Avenue
Business owner: Anthony Reynoso (pictured left, with Super Fi employee Sergio Rosales, right)
Neighborhood: East Harlem
FRESH Store Opening Date: June 28, 2013
Total Number of Employees: 38
The FRESH Benefit: The Reynoso family approached the New York City Industrial Development Agency in 2012. Working with FRESH staff, they were able to open doors to a new grocery store in East Harlem in June 2013. By working with the FRESH program, Super Fi Emporium received a comprehensive package of benefits, including a mortgage recording tax deferral, land tax abatement, building tax abatement and sales tax exemption. The FRESH savings have not only helped to grow and sustain Super Fi Emporium, but also increase the availability of affordable, healthy food options in an area of high need.
Meet the Owner
How did you get your start at the store?
My parents started their first business in 1982. In 1989, my parents officially bought the land. To think that we have been here for over 30 years is pretty amazing.
I began working at and managing the store in 2000, after graduating from Ramapo College with a degree in Economics. My brother graduated from William Patterson with a degree in business management and finance.
It was a great feeling of welcoming by the community of locals. And it still is.
Why did you decide to participate in the FRESH program?
I decided to participate in FRESH because of the benefits that were available to me at the time. We were considering leasing our location to a pharmacy. East Harlem does not have the supply in terms of supermarkets to service all of its residents. Having the ability to go through FRESH made our decision-making process easier when it came time to decide whether to lease or open our supermarket.
I also knew that if I could cut costs I would be in a better situation to be able to provide better pricing and service for my customers.
How has the FRESH program affected your business?
FRESH has benefited my business by helping me provide more for our customers and employees. We pay all of our employees above minimum wage. We're committed to local hiring and half of our staff have ben hired through Workforce1.
We have several events we do together with all employees throughout the year. We've had trips to Mountain Creek over the summer and hosted Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas parties with employees. We provide our employees the necessary tools to help them feel better about themselves and their job, including providing on-site training and branded clothing free-of-charge. Full time employees get paid time off and bonuses. We have been able to invest in our business in the form of a juice bar, full-service kitchen and deli, flower shop, price checkers throughout our store, scent air machines, ice machines, elevator, etc., all thanks to the FRESH financial incentives.
How has your store impacted your customers and the neighborhood?
Most local supermarkets you go to don't have the feel or the vibe that we have here. Our employees take pride in what they do and where they work. That is important and should not be taken for granted. We are very proud when customers tell us how happy they are that we are here. We pass our savings onto our customers by offering lower priced grocery items and the store remains healthy due to the steady volume of sales.
We are also committed to the community and regularly donate catered food and offer discounts to nearby community-based organization.
What is the best thing about your store?
We think outside of the box. We do things that other stores won’t do. We are big on social media. We have over 1,200 likes on Facebook. We are active on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Our website is regularly updated so customers can see our weekly sales.
Would you be part of FRESH over again?
I would 100% do it again. I am 100% supportive of the FRESH program and encourage any small business like mine to do the same. We take pride in our brand. It was a struggle at first, but I believe the neighborhood has really taken to the name and our story.
Interested in opening a FRESH store? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to help bring a new supermarket to your community, or for assistance in finding a location for your new store! More information about the program can be found on our FRESH page.