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Organic Grocery Store Opening In Ward 8

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By Ginger Moored

A Yes! Organic grocery store will open on Wednesday in Ward 8’s Fairlawn neighborhood. Bloggers, developers, and urban planners have their opinions, some think an organic grocer can't possibly be successful in the District’s poorest ward. But others are convinced that good, fresh food will sell anywhere. Neighborhood residents have opinions somewhere in between.

The Yes! Organic store on Pennsylvania Avenue SE has been under construction for months.

But at a bus stop about 70 ft. away, three women say they haven’t paid much attention to it.

"I think they need to advertise more," says one woman.

Because all of them say they've never had organic food and don't really know much about it.

"...maybe bring out little pamphlets to inform people what organic foods are about."

Holley, who wouldn’t give her last name, has lived in the neighborhood for decades. She says she's willing to try organic food. The others at the bus stop agree. But there’s one thing that worries her..."the prices," she says.

The prices for some products at other Yes! stores are higher than the exact same organic products at Giant.

Cascadian Farm’s Honey Nut O’s are $5.59 at Yes! and $4.29 at Giant. A large container of Stonyfield yogurt? $ 4.79 at Yes!, $3.69 at Giant. And all those organic products have non-organic alternatives that cost even less at Giant.

Still, Holley says she'll check out the store when she passes by it on the way to the bus. But she's not so sure about her neighbors.

"Some people just can't afford it, but they'd like it, but they can't afford it," says Holley.

A block down from the bus stop, where Minnesota Avenue crosses Pennsylvania, Lynn Johnson sits under a shade tree. She's on a tight budget and finds it hard to get deals on fresh fruits, vegetables and meat because she doesn’t have a car.

A block down from the bus stop, where Minnesota Avenue crosses Pennsylvania, Lynn Johnson sits under a shade tree. She's on a tight budget and finds it hard to get deals on fresh fruits, vegetables and meat because she doesn’t have a car.

"Most of the time I do end up getting on the bus and I usually go to a Murray’s. If I have a ride, I usually go out to Shopper’s. I shop wherever I can find good sales," says Johnson.

Murray’s is miles away and Shopper’s is in P.G. County. She lives only six blocks from the new Yes! store. But if you thought she’ll just walk past the Yes! store to find a bargain somewhere else, you figured wrong.

"It’s right in the neighborhood, it’s convenient, and as opposed to spending extra dollars catching the bus, it’ll be just about the same to me," she says.

Charles Wilson, who's a regular here at Big Chair Coffee in Anacostia, says that that’s what makes Yes! so appealing, it’s not the organic food, it’s not savings, it’s because it's there.

"You know, a lot of communities take that for granted, that they can either go to the Safeway or Giant down the street. You know, here in Ward 8, there’s just one option pretty much and that’s Giant food store," says Wilson.

And Giant is two and a half miles from Fairlawn, where the Yes! is. So for some people it takes two bus rides to get staples like tomatoes and apples.

"If it’s closer or more convenient, they’ll take advantage of it, rather than traveling to Giant. You’re spending the same amount of money anyway on gas and transportation," he says.

And for Wilson, personally?

"I'll be willing to spend more because it's closer and more convenient, but that doesn't mean I'll stop shopping at Giant either," he says.

After all, Wilson has a car.

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