Empower Sioux Falls launches grocery initiative by acquiring Fair Market, LLC

Rich Merkouris, Chair of Empower Sioux Falls Board of Directors
Rich Merkouris, Chair of Empower Sioux Falls Board of Directors(Empower Sioux Falls)
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Empower Sioux Falls acquired a reduced-price grocery store Fair Market, LLC.

Empower Sioux Falls will use the Fair Market name for a new grocery initiative the nonprofit is launching, according to their press release.

“We are excited to pursue this opportunity to meet a tangible need in our community that impacts thousands of people,” said Rich Merkouris, Chair of Empower Sioux Falls Board of Directors. “We look forward to continuing to offer an important service to Fair Market’s existing customers and reach new people in neighborhoods with storefronts that carry existing Fair Market products and important staple grocery items.”

Merkouris said Empower Sioux Falls received $300,000 from community members as seed capital to launch the grocery initiative. The intention of the initiative is to open one or two storefront locations in the next three to six months or as soon as facility options have been located in the target areas.

Fair Market offers long-life grocery items at a discounted price. Many of these items have been returned to grocery warehouses because of damaged packaging, low volume of sales, rebranding, or the expiration date is nearing.

“Our commitment to meeting the grocery needs of Sioux Falls in a creative and dynamic way remains unchanged,” said Kristin Johnson, the current owner of Fair Market who will serve as Executive Director of the grocery initiative. “What is new is our relationship to Empower and its broad community connections. This step is going to help us take Fair Market to the next level and increase our reach.”

Recent studies have shown a growing need in Sioux Falls. A recent study conducted by the Augustana Research Institute for Sioux Falls Thrive entitled, “Food Security and Food Access in Sioux Falls, SD,” examined food access in Sioux Falls. The study found that “low‐income, low‐access areas, commonly referred to as food deserts, are geographic areas where a significant number of people have low incomes (relative to the surrounding community) and low access (in terms of distance and vehicle access) to supermarkets.”

The study used a 1‐mile criterion for low access and found a significant portion of the northwest area of Sioux Falls is a food desert, with an estimated 21,808 low-income individuals living a mile or more from the nearest supermarket.

Merkouris said the plan is to continue with the current operations of Fair Market, located at 4510 E. 10th Street, just east of Sycamore Ave, and add small storefront options in specific neighborhoods that have been identified as food deserts. Each of the new storefronts will include 60-70 staple food items such as rice, carrots, hamburger, noodles, and eggs.

“We are going to work hard at uniting the community in service to meet this important need,” Merkouris said. “There is great work being done in the charitable food space by Feeding South Dakota and Faith Temple. Those distributions are important and needed in our city. This effort will focus on bringing a small grocery option to specific neighborhoods where people pay for food.”

The Empower Campus is a mall of services where organizations are united in serving individuals and families in Sioux Falls. The campus includes childcare, counseling, utility assistance, transportation assistance, and other services.

For more information about Empower Sioux Falls, visit its website at: www.empowersiouxfalls.com.

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