PRODUCE Marketplace Store Branding, Interior Design, & Audience Engagement.
Clairton, PA was considered one of Western Pennsylvania’s “starkest food deserts,” deprived of a local grocery store offering fresh food options. For nearly ten years, transit-dependent residents and their families resorted to shopping at neighborhood dollar stores, convenience stores, or enduring two-hour round-trip bus travel in order to purchase groceries from adjacent communities. Although a farmer’s market periodically visited the community and was well-received by residents, the need for a permanent solution to Clairton’s food scarcity and related public health issues became undeniable.
Trailhead: Where We Started
Working in conjunction with a range of community and business partners, Economic Development South and the Clairton Neighborhood Partnership Program sought to create a community-based corner store: a “middle product” designed to provide fresh food options that would cater to the needs of residents and create a “healthier community overall.”
Trek: Steps We’ve Taken
At the request of Economic Development South and the Clairton Neighborhood Partnership Program, TrailBlaze Creative was invited to assist both organizations in securing an Uprize Challenge Grant. Although the TrailBlaze team was presented with a limited timeframe to complete the grant application, TBC conceptualized, produced, and filmed a five-minute documentary cataloging Clairton’s food insecurity issues for use in the submission process. TrailBlaze simultaneously worked to promote and advance a digital campaign intended to gather votes and public support for the Clairton corner store initiative. Once Economic Development South (representing Clairton) was selected as a finalist, the TrailBlaze team assumed a leadership role in presenting a compelling case for funding before the final judging panel. TrailBlaze’s team used a dynamic storytelling approach to highlight the prospect of genuine transformation in Clairton’s food “culture” as a consequence of the proposed corner store. With TBC’s help, Economic Development South and CNPP secured the Grand Prize of $100,000.
With much-needed funding in hand, TrailBlaze continued to play an integral role in the framing and development of the Clairton corner store. Aside from generating the name of the store, “Produce Marketplace,” TBC assisted EDS in conducting extensive community outreach, using surveys and engagement tools, to determine which foods to stock in the store, and to collect branding- and aesthetics-oriented input from a variety of stakeholders. From highly tangible aspects of the store like paint colors, price tags, uniforms, and nametags, to strategies designed to ensure quality customer and staff experience, TBC worked to provide regular marketing technical assistance and guidance to the corner store’s establishment process. The TrailBlaze team also worked to develop the corner store’s overall brand, digital presence–establishing a website, social media channels, and other necessary tools designed to sustainably promote the store upon its opening and beyond. Working within tight budget considerations to assist with the logistical setup, online launch, and physical launch of the corner store, Produce Marketplace was successfully opened in Clairton to great public acclaim.
Summit: Vision Realized
As a consequence of TrailBlaze’s iterative marketing leadership in the corner store initiative, Clairton’s food desert has been effectively eliminated. Residents are now empowered to not only shop at a fresh food grocer, but to play a meaningful role in dictating the stock offered within the store. Fresh produce, breads, dairy products, and slice-to-order deli meats and cheeses are all offered within the store, including many locally-sourced products from food suppliers who have enthusiastically collaborated with Produce Marketplace. The store’s broader community impact continues to blossom as it offers recipe-sharing opportunities, product giveaways, as well as youth-oriented incentives to encourage good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. The corner store is also developing into a promising site for future community programming and events.
TrailBlaze continues to offer technical assistance to Produce Marketplace, assisting with high-level business concerns as well as ongoing logistical demands and plans for expansion. Delivering on a promise to bring fresh food options to nearly 7,000 residents in need, TrailBlaze has served as an enthusiastic and indispensable partner to EDS and Clairton in cultivating the concrete resources and creative capital necessary to provide a cost-effective and community-altering solution to Clairton.
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