CHICAGO (CBS) — On the shelves at the new Whole Foods opening in Englewood Wednesday, someone’s whipped up a success story.
“We’ve got a few people fighting over who can do the demos in the Engelwood store,” Imani Muhammad, owner of Imani’s Original Bean Pies says.
Muhammad’s bean pies are available in 20 stores, but being baked and packaged, by workers in Engelwood is especially important to Muhammad, who calls the often struggling neighbrohood where an upscale Whole Foods is set to open, home.
“If we are highlighting the good, guess what? More people will want to do good things to be seen,” she says.
“The level that a lot of people came to us at they were really small businesses,” Whole Foods representative Julie Blubaugh says.
But Whole Foods made an effort to work with those businesses, selecting 35 with very similar goals, CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports.
“I want to show my neighbors I want to show my family, I want to show people that I am from Engelwood. I started my won business,” Blubaugh says most business owners demonstrate.
“This red velvet cheesecake brownie launches early next week,” Laine’s Bake Shop owner Rachel Bernier-Green says. She left a career in consulting to open her shop, which is providing the grocer with artisan cookies.
“Back in the day, Engelwood and Bronzeville were like the places to be that was the epicenter of commerce and culture for the black community.”
Making sure her neighborhood benefits along with her bakery is a basic ingredient of her business plan.
“Business can be a tool for good in our community and if we started a bake shop its an easy way to train people that may not have any other skill sets,” Bernier-Green says.
The 35 Englewood-made products includes baked goods as well as beauty and hair care products.
Contracts with Whole Foods has allowed these businesses to hire more staff–maybe only one or two more employees–but it’s the kind of small impact these small businesses believe would add up to big change.