PCC Community Markets opened its 14th store in Seattle’s Central District on June 17. Store officials worked for the past six months with community leaders to learn what was important to the neighborhood, an endeavor that became increasingly important as the city and the country became embroiled in racial equality protests.
Community members shared that they had experienced retail racism, and PCC is focused on making the store a place where all customers feel welcome and respected while shopping. Staff were trained on implicit bias and how to prevent retail racism, the company said. This training will also be rolled out to all of PCC’s other locations.
The 18,000-square-foot store adhered to health and safety protocols in place due to the coronavirus pandemic during its grand opening, including required masks and social distancing, to keep both staff and shoppers safe.
In addition to safety, affordability of products also was a big concern for residents of the area. To help keep costs down, PCC has stocked several products from Field Day, distributor United Natural Food's price-focused natural and organic private label brand.
A partnership with Byrd Barr Place also provides the community access to food as the store has pledged to donate hundreds of pounds of food to the pantry daily along with fresh produce from local, small farms through the company’s Food Bank Program, PCC said.
As with all PCC locations, local art is commissioned to fit the vibe of the neighborhood. The Central District store responded to concern that art, especially from black artists, had been disappearing from the neighborhood and commissioned local artist Jite Agbro for an installation in the store. Agbro, who grew up in the community, created “In Forms That It Takes,” a series of fabric panels representing different Central District landmarks.
Aligned with a commitment to community and providing a trusted shopping experience, PCC said all of its locations are focused on delivering fresh, quality products, including more than 7,000 organic items and just over 9,400 local products. More than 95% of PCC’s produce selection is organic; its fresh meats are 100% organic, non-GMO or grass-fed; its fresh and frozen raw seafood is responsibly sourced as defined by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program; and, whenever possible, the co-op sources its products from local producers, farmers, ranchers and fishers. Using those same ingredients, PCC chefs make salads, soups, hot entrees and side dishes fresh from scratch daily on-site in the PCC Kitchen.
PCC said it was committed to providing black community members with a career path that included advancement. A major recruiting campaign included attending the MLK Day Career & Opportunity Fair, as well as two open community “food and conversation” sessions at Garfield Community Center. The retailer also hosted three job fairs at the Douglass-Truth library. While in-person recruitment efforts were cut short by the pandemic, hiring within the community continued. PCC said its human resources team is developing a career mapping program to ensure equitable advancement opportunities for those who are black, indigenous and people of color.
A curated selection of 100% Pacific Northwest-produced spirits complement the co-op’s collection of exclusive wines and local beers and ciders.
As important as supporting local producers, the community expressed the desire to buy from minority-owned companies from the store. The store features JT's BBQ Sauce, Miss Marjorie’s Plantains and Mama’s Jollof Sauce, Mama’s Everything Sauce and Spicy-Vegetarian Seasoning from Naija Buka. For the past three years, the company has partnered with ventures to fund training and support of diverse entrepreneurs and those with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. PCC said it was also rolling out a micro-grant program for diverse entrepreneurs later this year.