Owners of the new Shop Rite say they are pulling in the kind of numbers they had predicted.

It had been a few days since the grand opening of the new Shop Rite in the Baltimore City community of Howard Park. Notables like Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake have long since cleared out. But this past Sunday, the store was still bustling with activity.

Fifteen years in the making, the new store has been hailed as a kind of oasis in the middle of an urban food desert. Food deserts are places where it is difficult to find fresh, nutritious food. “In order to grow a city, you have to both attract new residents and give those residents already here more reasons to stay. For me that means ensuring that every family, no matter their income or where they live, has access to quality, affordable, and nutritious food options,” Rawlings-Blake said during the July 31 opening ceremony. “Right now, too many people in Baltimore lack easy access to groceries.”

On Sunday, Howard Park resident Riccardo Thomas was just one of many residents taking advantage of the new access. “It’s a big change for the neighborhood, it’s good for the neighborhood. You see how crowded it is,” he said, gesturing at the crowded parking lot. This was his second visit to the store since it opened. He said the parking lot was so full he’d had to leave and complete other errands and then return. “I hope they can maintain it without prices going up,” he said.

Shopper Andre Walters, also of Howard Park, was also happy with the new store. He said that before Shop Rite came to town, his closest options were Mondowmin Mall, Millford Mill, or Reisterstown Road.

“The prices are excellent. Something like this was $5.” He said the deals he found were equal to those found at big-box stores like Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club. “If they are running specials like this every week, they are going to give those three stores a lot of competition.”


ShopRite of Howard Park

The store has been good for businesses surrounding it too, said hairstylist Jaque Johnson. She owns the Jae2Jaye Beauty and Barber salon right next to ShopRite. She said the number of people stopping in to take a look has increased and many have booked appointments. “It’s been maybe about a 40 percent increase,” she said.

This is all great news for Marshall Klein, one of the owners of the new store. “We’ve received a very positive reaction to the store,” he said during a phone interview. “Everyone has been very impressed.”

He said that the most popular area is the seafood department. “It’s been phenomenal,” he said. So good, in fact, that they are looking to hire extra people to meet customers’ demands.”

Klein said that he and the other owners made a conscious decision to hire from the community. “In our conversations it was stressed over and over again that they didn’t just want a grocery store, but a community grocery store.” He said that well over 70 percent of his staff is from Howard Park.

Overall, Klein said they are pulling in the kind of numbers they had predicted. “We are performing right at our expected volume,” he said.