Old North Grocery Co-op

people and produce
File Photo | Rachel Heidenry | Beacon

The business district of the Old North neighborhood, near 14th Street and St. Louis Ave., is still a work in progress. New enterprises include a pet shop and a podiatrist’s office, but old ones continue to close. One recent casualty was the Old North Grocery Co-op. After opening with a lively neighborhood celebration in the summer of 2010, the co-op quietly locked its doors in mid-October.

Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the definition for the term "food desert" is  "urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food," meaning that, in a lower income community a grocery store is more than a mile away. Depending on where you live in St. Louis, it may seem that there's a grocery store on every corner.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In spite of the Saturday morning chill, customers began lining up early in front of Crown Candy Kitchen, 1401 St. Louis Ave., awaiting turns to enter the crowded eatery, known for its sundaes, assorted chocolates and "heart stopping BLT" sandwiches.

The crowd there was in contrast to the absence of people a block away at another store that should have been full: the Old North Grocery Co-op. But business there continues to be weak, stirring fears among some that the store might be forced to close its doors by summer. Others are hoping that a combination of aggressive marketing to attract more customers and recruit more volunteers will help the store survive.