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Corner Store Reflects Neighborhood Change

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A shop like Gerry's Goods is a rarity in this neighborhood. Not only is it owned and operated by people who live here in Sandtown, it's also one of the only places of business without bulletproof glass between patron and vendor.

Antoine Bennet, a co-owner of Gerry's Goods, admits to being part of the corner's violent past. But now he's working to make this store a community resource to curb the violence in the area.

"We call it the intercession at the intersection...this corner represents a history of bloodshed and negativity and crime. We say it's about coming to get your masange mocha as opposed to worrying about somebody being murdered," Bennet says.

Gerry Palmer co-founded the store in 2006. Palmer modeled the store on the one he used to hang out at as a kid.

"It was a neighborhood corner store at the end of this block here. It was called Hookeys. And three adults in the neighborhood ran actually that one store. You come home from school, go to the store...arcade machines...so it's kind of something that always stuck in my head," he says.

Palmer says that just having a place in the neighborhood where people can come and grab some snacks is building connections between people here -- like with him and three kids who come by every day after school.

"They say 'Mr. Gerry, come're!' And then they say, 'Help me count my change and help me find some stuff to get,' and just that right there helps me feel special," he says.

The store is part of a larger effort by nearby New Song Church to create new opportunities for residents of Sandtown.

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