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Good brands do better by coaching indie companies

Super market

Becoming a successful company is a journey of learning, and Sweetgreen decided to share the knowledge to help a mom-and-pop market in its hometown of LA. The popular, forward-thinking fresh and local salad chain applied its own understanding of retail, sourcing and design to turn a 20-year old liquor store into a fresh and healthy corner market that serves a food desert.

When Kelli Jackson took ownership of her parents’ store, Hank’s Mini Market, she partnered with the nonprofit Los Angeles Food Policy Council which focuses on making corner stores healthier, and Sweetgreen’s team came onboard with hands-on help. “Instead of just writing a check to help her, we wanted to find a way to go deeper and give expertise from our team,” says Nathaniel Ru, the company’s chief brand officer, (, 27 April 2018).

The Sweetgreen team helped Jackson to remodel the store into an entirely new space and develop an updated logo, brand and style guides. The company also served as a business consultant by advising on sourcing, optimization and logistics.

As Jackson puts it, big businesses are more often known for putting mom-and-pop stores out of business than helping – but they have the resources to make a difference in a community by partnering with the stores that are already there.

We often talk about how important it is to connect with consumers through shared values, and there are many avenues to pursue to get there. Many of the philanthropic methods – one-for-one purchases or supporting artisans – have become standard practices. And while brands should continue to explore those tactics, it’s noteworthy when they think outside the box and look within communities. Consumers want to see their neighborhoods thrive, and established brands can create a local presence by supporting and mentoring indie businesses. For them, shared values hit closest to home when brands work to better their own backyards.

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