Citizen of Edina: Kurt Vickman
Kurt Vickman is an innovative social entrepreneur who is compelled to make a difference in the lives of others. He harnesses a volunteer network and provides accessible and affordable food in his one-of-a-kind grocery store, Good Grocer, located in Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood. Yet, what is most remarkable is how it serves as a “place of empowerment” for those who feel overlooked.
Good Grocer is a neighborhood store powered by 500 volunteers, who qualify for a 20 percent discount if they regularly volunteer 2.5 hours a month. Shoppers experiencing food insecurity are eligible to shop the food outlet, the 800-square-foot store-within-a-store where goods are deeply discounted.
The Good Grocer concept launched from an Edina church, Upper Room Community, where Vickman served as pastor after its founding 14 years ago. An experiential worship service was the engine for the founding of a food club that has grown, guided by Vickman, to today’s store.
What makes Good Grocer stand apart is the people: a worker with Asperger syndrome who struggled cashiering at another store but found a home at Good Grocer; a volunteer who is legally blind but volunteers as a stocker; a man who said, “I can’t read. Can I still volunteer?” Good Grocer attracts a large contingent of retirees and welcomes volunteers from a Richfield nonprofit serving young adults with learning differences and
a Minnetonka charter school serving those with autism.
“People are the heartbeat of the ‘good’ in Good Grocer,” Vickman says. “The fact that they are seen here makes this place special.”
Good Grocer recently celebrated its two-year anniversary in its current location. Next, Vickman plans to open Good Eatery, a food hall inside the store that will serve as a neighborhood gathering place. Discover more at goodgrocer.org.
Contributed by Tina Bohrer on behalf of the Edina Community Foundation.