In early 2017, Giant Eagle closed a store on the East Side of Cleveland, on Buckeye Road. The local community was concerned that this important source of fresh food and kitchen staples was disappearing and worked through local, state and national organizations to find a solution. A local businessman, Simon Hussain, stepped up, and pursued financing to renovate the 55,000 sq. ft. grocery store. Mr. Hussain owns three other successful full-service supermarkets in the Cleveland area.
Mr. Hussain recognizes that one of the keys to continued success of any supermarket is its responsiveness to the needs and wants of the area’s residents. Along with hundreds of Buckeye neighborhood and other Cleveland community residents, he organized forums, site visits and a job fair to identify and implement the products and services that keep customers coming back.
The Healthy Food for Ohio (HFFO) program, administered by Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP) provided almost $1 million in flexible financing for the in-store equipment and interior renovation costs. The City of Cleveland provided an additional $1 million in funding support.
Simon’s Buckeye Foods Supermarket held their “soft opening” on Saturday, August 19th and is now open for business. A resident organization collected over 250 feedback surveys from customers and the comments were overwhelmingly positive. The store offers high-quality, affordable, healthy foods as well as additional services including community engagement programs. Mr. Hussain is also interested in working with a pharmacy and credit union or a bank to operate within the store in the future.
The store is located in a severely distressed area with a poverty rate of 33%, a median income of 62% AMI compared to the city average, and an unemployment rate of 29%. Through the opening of Simon’s Buckeye Foods, over 80 jobs were created for local residents.