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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Store tour: Locali Conscious Convenience

Locali Conscious Convenience 5825 Franklin Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Owners: Melissa Rosen and Greg Horos
Size: 700 square feet (525 square feet retail space)
Employees: six part-time
Product mix:

  • 20 percent deli
  • 16 percent eco-friendly lifestyle and conservation products
  • 15 percent refrigerated items
  • 13 percent sustainable wines
  • 13 percent organic and local microbrew beer
  • 10 percent dry goods and snack foods and bars
  • 10 percent freezer
  • 3 percent bath and beauty Bryce Edmonds

    Quick: You're between meetings. You need a sandwich and coffee, like, now! Yet your inner environmentalist screams, “No! Not a convenience store … .” If you happen to be driving your Prius in the Franklin Village neighborhood of Holly­wood, then you are in luck. You can pop into Locali Conscious Convenience—and keep your conscience clear.

    Market love child?
    “I say we're the green version of 7-Eleven, but in reality maybe we're more like the love child between a Japanese quick-mart and a European corner shop,” says Melissa Rosen, co-owner of Locali. “We're a mom-and-pop general store that caters to wine lovers, beer aficionados, moms and dads looking for healthy snacks for the kids, vegan foodies, conscious carnivores, eco-minded individuals seeking a simple device to reduce electricity consumption, singles looking to meet another sexy someone in line for a tasty sandwich.” Wonder whether this diverse mission statement is possible? Consider some of Locali's features: organic and sustainably farmed produce, meat and dairy; prepackaged meals from local food artisans for vegans and meat eaters; no refined sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or genetically modified ingredients; organic, biodynamic and sustainable wine, beer and sake; biodegradable to-go ware; onsite composting; and partnership in a glass- and plastic-recycling program that financially supports young filmmakers whose work promotes sustainability and environmental goodwill.

    The store's cabinetry, shelving units and furniture are made from reclaimed Douglas fir. All paint contains little or no volatile organic compounds. Energy-efficient lighting is installed throughout—including inside the refrigeration units—and a Solatube Daylighting System helps keep light use down during the day.

    And, just a little icing for that eco-conscious retail cake: Employee T-shirts are 100 percent organic cotton and hats are made of hemp and recycled polyethylene terephthalates. Customers will have to handle dating on their own.

    Conditions are(n't) perfect
    Creating a Japanese/European convenience store hybrid—and de facto dating service—hasn't been all hearts and flowers. Economic times are tough.

    For instance, Rosen says, while Locali is as energy efficient and environmentally responsible as possible, the store has foregone certifications such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Green Building Rating. Instead, Locali will work with the new City of Los Angeles Certified Green Business Program when it launches shortly—a program without an enrollment fee.

    Being environmentally cutting edge comes with another set of difficulties. Getting the right recycling service was a challenge, as was starting an eco-friendly website. “Our website is powered by off-the-grid solar power, not some elusive wind credit/carbon-neutral greenwash hosting,” Rosen says.

    “Even though we have felt squeezed in terms of our business finances, these restrictions have forced us to work harder and be more creative than we initially thought possible,” she says.

    Breeding more markets
    That creativity just may pay off for Rosen and Horos' plans. Rosen says the owners are completely focused on their first store, which opened in January, but they are also working with global commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield on expansion plans. “Our goal is to build a chain similar to 7-Eleven, but on a smaller, sustainable scale,” Rosen says.

    Whatever the future holds, Rosen hopes that all those people popping in for a between-meeting sandwich will walk out with more than a belly full of healthy food. “We hope that people enter to buy a yummy treat, biodynamic bottle of wine or cool reusable bag and leave with a bit more awareness about the impact of their purchases,” she says. Bryce Edmonds is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.

    Don't miss! Why go conventional convenience when you can go exceptional? Pop in for agave-sweetened slushies, organic tamales, rechargeable hydrogen-cell batteries, reusable bags hand-painted by local school kids and vegan condoms. Yep, vegan condoms.

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