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Mission-driven, independently-owned community food stores have been identified as a potential solution to improve access to healthy foods, yet to date there is limited information on what factors contribute to these stores’ success and failure. Using a multiple case study approach, this study examined what makes a healthy community food store successful and identified strategies for success in seven community stores in urban areas across the United States. We used Stake’s multiple case study analysis approach to identify the following key aims that contributed to community store success across all cases: (1) making healthy food available, (2) offering healthy foods at affordable prices, and (3) reaching community members with limited economic resources. However, stores differed in terms of their intention, action, and achievement of these aims. Key strategies identified that enabled success included: (1) having a store champion, (2) using nontraditional business strategies, (3) obtaining innovative external funding, (4) using a dynamic sourcing model, (5) implementing healthy food marketing, and (6) engaging the community. Stores did not need to implement all strategies to be successful, however certain strategies, such as having a store champion, emerged as critical for all stores. Retailers, researchers, philanthropy, and policymakers can utilize this definition of success and the identified strategies to improve healthy food access in their communities.


Advertising and Promotion Management | Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Food Security | Food Studies | Health Policy | Public Policy | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence (, and indicate if changes were made (no changes were made).