Objective Little is known about the practices for stocking and procuring healthy food in non-traditional food retailers (e.g. gas-marts, pharmacies). The present study aimed to: (i) compare availability of healthy food items across small food store types; and (ii) examine owner/manager perceptions and stocking practices for healthy food across store types. Design Descriptive analyses were conducted among corner/small grocery stores, gas-marts, pharmacies and dollar stores. Data from store inventories were used to examine availability of twelve healthy food types and an overall healthy food supply score. Interviews with managers assessed stocking practices and profitability. Setting Small stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, USA, not participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Subjects One hundred and nineteen small food retailers and seventy-one store managers. Results Availability of specific items varied across store type. Only corner/small grocery stores commonly sold fresh vegetables (63 % v. 8 % of gas-marts, 0 % of dollar stores and 23 % of pharmacies). More than half of managers stocking produce relied on cash-and-carry practices to stock fresh fruit (53 %) and vegetables (55 %), instead of direct store delivery. Most healthy foods were perceived by managers to have at least average profitability. Conclusions Interventions to improve healthy food offerings in small stores should consider the diverse environments, stocking practices and supply mechanisms of small stores, particularly non-traditional food retailers. Improvements may require technical support, customer engagement and innovative distribution practices.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge Kristen Klingler and Nora Gordon at the Minneapolis Health Department for their continuous partnership on this work and their remarkable expertise on local small food stores. They would also like to acknowledge the extensive efforts of those who assisted with data acquisition and management, including Robin Friebur, Ross Anderson, Anna Bartholomay, Sarah Dzik and Lisa Murray. Finally, they thank the store managers who generously participated in this study. This research was supported by the National Cancer Institute (C.E.C., grant number R25CA163184); the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (M.N.L., grant number R01DK104348); and the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins, through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (M.N.L., grant number U54HD070725). Data management support was provided by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health (grant number UL1TR000114). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Funding agencies had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article. The authors do not declare any conflicts of interest. C.E.C. was responsible for formulating research questions and leading manuscript writing, and also supported carrying out the study from which these data originated. J.E.P. was responsible for performing data analysis, contributed to formulation of research questions and writing/revision of the manuscript, and supported carrying out the study from which these data originated. L.H. assisted in interpreting results, and made contributions to writing and revising the manuscript. D.J.E. guided and provided feedback on the analysis, assisted in interpreting results, and contributed to manuscript writing and revisions. M.N.L. was responsible for leading the overall study from which these data originated, including conception/design, funding acquisition and implementation, and gave feedback on analyses and writing/revision of the manuscript. This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving human subjects/patients were approved by the University of Minnesota. Verbal informed consent was obtained from all subjects. Verbal consent was witnessed and formally recorded.
- Corner stores
- Food retail
- Healthy food availability
- Store managers