IGA Delivers Access to Fresh Groceries in Food Desert

Oct 25, 2023

A new Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) store in East Chattanooga, Tennessee is getting attention for providing food desert relief for nearly 40,000 residents in the immediate vicinity.

Located in a Healthy Food Priority Area (HFPA), the 17,976-square foot IGA store significantly helps residents gain access to fresh food. Despite the next closest full-service store being a few miles away by car, the large elderly population lacks access to personal transportation, turning a three mile walk or bus ride into a multiple-hour journey.

“The two-mile radius is very challenging — no big box store has made footprints in the area,” Store Owner Chaudry Ali said. "The market is very hungry for smaller stores in this particular neighborhood."

Ali is a familiar face in the greater East Chattanooga area, operating a Roger’s Supermarket for the past 14 years. While he opened this location two years ago, he recently reopened as an IGA to leverage the offers from national brands and to provide IGA Exclusive Brand private label products to the low-income community.

“We're making a statement when giving out promos to introduce customers to the IGA brand," Ali said, adding that he is looking forward to using the multitude of programs offered by the Alliance to build brand recognition, train employees, and create an online presence. 

"Chaudry's decision to convert his store to an IGA is truly exciting for the community. We welcome him with open arms and are thrilled to have him as part of the IGA family,” said IGA Area Director Doug Walter. “With our wide range of programs and support, including marketing, eCommerce, and efficiency-boosting strategies, we're confident that Chaudry's store will thrive and become an integral part of our IGA network and more importantly, East Chattanooga.” 

With prior experience running grocery stores, Ali knows the benefits of supplying the community with nutritious offerings come with challenges. He touts the meat department as the store's most successful feature, offering a wide variety of cuts and southern staples such as pig feet and ham hocks, and is proud of his store team. But he acknowledges that rising labor costs make it difficult to operate.

“It just makes it a little more challenging, because with discount grocery stores, the margins are thin,” Ali said. 

Thankfully, Ali now has access to a host of training through the IGA Coca-Cola Institute to help him implement best practices to reduce costs and improve margins. Combine that with IGA's National Digital Ad to deliver savings to shoppers, and additional programs to help him cater to the unique population in need of this grocery store, and Ali is well on his way to serving the East Chattanooga community.

Editor's note: Retailers who already serve communities that are nutritionally at-risk, or who are interested in opening new stores in existing food deserts, the federal government and most states have special funding available to spur economic investments in these communities. Programs like Federal New Market Tax Credits, localized Opportunity Zone funding, and city or county specialized funds may be available in your area. Check out  the CDI fund on us.gov for more details or reach out to IGA, NGA, or FMI for advice on how to locate funding in your area.

You May Also Like

These Stories on Hometown Happenings

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think