Capitol Hill Seattle Blog: With vow to prevent ‘Retail Racism,’ PCC opens in the Central District
In a city consumed by weeks of Black Lives Matter protests and months of COVID-19 restrictions, PCC Community Markets marked a quiet opening of its first store in the Central District, Seattle’s core of Black history and culture where waves of redevelopment and rising costs have reshaped the communities that call it home.
“We heard from many people in the neighborhood that they had experienced retail racism. We want our store to be a place where everyone is respected while shopping,” the Seattle-based cooperative grocery chain’s opening announcement reads. “As a result, we trained all of our staff at Central District PCC on implicit bias and how to prevent retail racism. We are rolling this training out to all of our stores.”
PCC says it has also included community art and has tried to address affordability concerns for its new store as well as holding job fairs in the Central District and creating programs “to ensure equitable advancement opportunities for those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color.”
Via Capitol Hill Seattle Blog
Over the past six months, PCC has connected with Central District leaders and organizations to learn more about what’s important to them and how we can be a good neighbor. As we celebrate the opening of Central District PCC, we wanted to share some key themes that we heard and how we are taking action on those themes.
- Retail Racism – We heard from many people in the neighborhood that they had experienced retail racism. We want our store to be a place where everyone is respected while shopping. As a result, we trained all of our staff at Central District PCC on implicit bias and how to prevent retail racism. We are rolling this training out to all of our stores.
- Art – We heard from the community that art, specifically from Black artists, has been disappearing from the neighborhood. As a result, we commissioned local artist Jite Agbro, who grew up in the Central District, to produce an art installation for our new store. The piece, titled “In Forms That It Takes,” features panels that represent different Central District landmarks.
- Affordability – We heard from the community that food affordability and access were a neighborhood concern. As a result, we brought in more products from Field Day, which offers organic items at a lower price point. We also will provide food to the community at no cost through our partnership with Byrd Barr Place. We will donate hundreds of pounds of food to them daily, along with fresh produce from local, small farms through our Food Bank Program. In addition, we accept SNAP benefits at our store through EBT.
- Jobs and Career Path – We heard from the community that jobs are important, but ensuring that Black community members have a career path for advancement is most important. We launched a major recruiting campaign, and attended the MLK Day Career & Opportunity Fair and two open community “food and conversation” sessions at Garfield Community Center. We also hosted three job fairs at the Douglass-Truth library. Our efforts were cut short by COVID-19, but we intend to continue to hire from the community. In addition, our HR team is developing a career mapping program to ensure equitable advancement opportunities for those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
- Business support – We heard from the community that it’s important that products from BIPOC-owned companies are featured on our shelves. As a result, we are renewing our efforts to support diverse businesses. For the last three years, we have partnered with Ventures to fund training and support of BIPOC entrepreneurs and those with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. We will continue that effort, in addition to rolling out a micro-grant program for diverse entrepreneurs this fall.
- Continuing the Conversation – We heard that the community would like to continue the conversation with us. As a result, we will create a community advisory council that will meet quarterly to advise the team at Central District PCC.
These are examples of just some of the changes we have made, and will continue to make, as an organization. Our conversations with the community were key to us understanding what it means to be located in this historic and vibrant neighborhood. Our goal truly is to be a good neighbor — one that is respectful of the fabric of Central District. We look forward to future conversations and hope to see you at Central District PCC!