On November 14 at REAP’s 6th Annual Be Local Awards, Thrive presented our Community Economy Leader Award to Bite Grocer and Eatery.
Among the six nominees, Bite stood out for its commitment to provide a community hub and access to local goods through its various partnerships throughout Inglewood. In addition to having a designated staff member to manage community development projects at Bite: Amy Buckman.
“As a community-oriented business, there are so many opportunities available to collaborate – whether with your customers, partners, or other businesses – and it can be so easy to miss those opportunities,” Buckman says.
She uses apples as a metaphor, explaining that it’s “easier to pick an apple than to plant a new tree.” Buckman finds the right opportunities – apples – and takes action on them before the opportunity is missed and they must start over.
Being the only grocery store in the Inglewood/Ramsay area, Bite is heavily committed to serving its community. Out of the numerous non-profit organizations Bite supports, 75 per cent are based within the neighbourhood.
“It’s really about building relationships with people who have that desire to support the community,” Buckman says.
This winter, Bite committed to providing 100 loaves of its baked-in-house bread to the Alexandra Centre Society’s Christmas Hamper project, which delivers carefully-packaged food and holiday spirit to Inglewood residents in need. Many of whom, Buckman says, are house-ridden and cannot easily access fresh food themselves.
Bite also believes in supporting the community through economic empowerment, believing that money made in Inglewood is money spent in Inglewood. Many of its employees live in Inglewood and Ramsay, and by that nature have a smaller footprint as they live, work, and play all within walking distance.
For its suppliers and business partnerships, Bite looks to support local businesses wherever possible. Approximately 75 per cent of its suppliers are based in Alberta, which includes the store’s unique “Vendor Consignment Program,” where local producers such as The Light Cellar can take up residence in a pop-up fashion at Bite to sell their wares at a more accessible margin, creating a symbiotic relationship between the two businesses. This allows the small business to form a relationship with Bite’s customers and often eventually bring the products onto Bite’s shelves full-time.
“Like raising children, it takes a community to raise a local business,” Buckman says. “When you’re living and working in that community, you tend to see firsthand how your business affects the community.”
We are grateful for and inspired by Bite’s efforts to raise Inglewood and look forward to what they produce next.