Black-Owned Autonomous Grocery Store Opens in Georgia
(FAYETTEVILLE, Ga.) — When Jilea Hemmings’ oldest son was diagnosed with autism, she and her husband, Jamie, began experimenting with foods that seemed to help boost their child’s performance.
The Georgian couple have used plant-based substitutes to create their son’s favorite dishes, including mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs.
Soon they started selling their produce at a farmer’s market, and their customers asked if the food was also sold at grocery stores.
“From there, the rest is history,” Hemmings told ABC News.
The couple just opened Nourish + Bloom Market in Fayetteville, Georgia, billed as the nation’s first black-owned standalone grocery store. Hemmings said their mantra is “real food and real products for real people.”
After moving from Chicago to Fayetteville, the Hemmings family said they realized they were in a food desert – an area with limited access to affordable, nutritious food – and decided to use their previous knowledge in food and technology to open its own market. .
Nourish + Bloom Market offers a “frictionless shopping” experience where customers can walk in, grab what they need and leave without queuing or stopping to scan and pay.
Hemmings has a background in technology and software building, and to bring her and her husband’s vision to life, Market has partnered with different companies such as Microsoft, USC Technologies, Nova Dynamics, and Intel.
Although the store is entirely self-contained, the owners still wanted the store to “feel warm” by having employees assisting customers throughout the market.
“People think self-employed means you’re taking jobs away,” Hemmings said. “Actually, that’s not the case. We are changing the way their work is done.
They also have delivery robots, named Nourish and Bloom, to deliver products to temperature-controlled compartments. With self-driving shopping, vending machines and robotic deliveries, the market can provide 24/7 access to real food and eco-friendly products.
“The community response has been overwhelming,” Hemmings said. “They’re so proud to see a black family doing this and then also discovering the technology, people have been really excited about it.”
The couple plan to franchise Nourish + Bloom Markets across the country, hoping to reach a goal of 800 stores in total.
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