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Local vendors compete for chance to have products featured in new East End grocery store

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dozens of local vendors are getting the opportunity to wow the executives bringing a full service grocery store to Richmond’s East End.

Small business owners will gather at the Robinson Theatre on Monday to display their products and hope their goods will be selected to grace the shelves of the area’s much needed grocery story.

The products will be showcased at the upcoming Supermarket Supplier Conference with a focus on African-American and minority small businesses.

Marie Hayes can always be found whipping up vegan dessert specialties from her Glen Allen kitchen. Soon, she hopes customers will be able to find them front and center in the grocery store that’s set to open near Nine Mile Road and North 25th Street.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to bring that grocery store in the community,” Hayes said.

Hayes said can’t contain the excitement she feels knowing that her company, Bakers Therapy by Marie, could be on the verge of another big breakthrough.

She’s already won over the taste buds of trainers, customers and owners of a local gym. Hayes’ famous Ener-J cookies are now being sold at a local Gold’s Gym.

Now, she is one of more than three dozen vendors registered to take part in the upcoming Supermarket Supplier Conference.

Hayes said can’t wait to tease the tastebuds of the people making decisions on which products will line the shelves at the Market @ 25th when it opens. The new grocery store, set to open in the next six months, will fill a void for neighbors in the city’s East End. It’s currently considered a food desert with just one grocery store for nearly thirty thousand shoppers, according to Richmond councilwoman Cynthia Newbill who represents the area.

Hayes says she is eager to share health and delicious options with customers, “If there is something healthier that we can bring to the community then we are building a better community,” Hayes added.

Developer and operator of the Market @ 25th, Norm Gold, has said that a top priority is creating a positive financial impact for smaller suppliers.

The aim is to create opportunities that truly represent the Church Hill and greater Richmond community, from the workers they hire, to the products they carry.

That’s a thought that gives Marie Hayes hope that she can help change the community doing something she absolutely loves.

“The market, if this is a catalyst for me to really put it out there, I’m shooting for all the stars I can, I really am,” Hayes said.

The Supermarket Supplier Conference will be held on Monday, August 27 from 6-8 p.m. at the Robinson Theatre on Q Street.

Organizers say vendors can show up to participate. They can also email requests to themarketat25th@gmail.com.

The new full service grocery store is expected to open between January and March of 2019.

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