David Warner: City Feed and Supply
What is City Feed and Supply?
City Feed and Supply is a neighborhood market cafe and deli specializing in local goods. Our mission is to build community through service.
When and why did you decide to start your business in JP?
In 1999, my partner and co-founder, Kristine Cortese started thinking about a vacant space at 66A Boylston Street near the Stony Brook train station. "Wouldn't it be great if there was a store there that had food you actually wanted to eat and a great cup of coffee?" That's when we decided to try our hand at running a business and open City Feed and Supply.
Why do you, as a business owner make an effort to shop local?
Part of what roots me so strongly to JP is this neighborhood's strong sense of place. That sense is made by the people, the landscape, the culture, the architecture, and all of the unique independent businesses. I grew up near a small town in Missouri where many of the small businesses closed after Walmart opened up. One of the most effective things I can do to nourish the diversity we have here is to consciously support all the other local independently owned businesses in the neighborhood. Besides, it's fun!
What is the biggest challenge you face as a small independently owned business?
One of the biggest challenges we face as a small, indie biz is, as we put it, "punching above our weight class" i.e. competing with multinational chain stores that have more resources and more practice perfecting their model. While no multinational chain will ever be as rooted in community as we are, often what drives people's shopping decisions is price and convenience and small businesses can't always beat the competition on those.
What's one thing that could be done to improve the business environment in JP?
I think one thing that could make our independent business community even stronger is if we were able to collaborate with commercial real estate owners so that local independent businesses were given priority over chains when vacant spaces are available. Everyone would benefit in the long run from this approach since it would strengthen the local economy and make a more connected vibrant community, but I understand why landlords are drawn to whoever will pay the highest rent.
What are you most proud of about your business?
One of the things I am most proud of in our business is that we have been able to support many of the community events and organizations for the last 15 years that have contributed so much to what we love about this neighborhood.
What's the most entertaining thing you've ever seen happen in your store?
There's always something new, unexpected and fun that can happen every day, especially when you're a store that always has great food around. I remember Skip disco dancing ______ and Mark stilt walking to live music. I am more than grateful for all of the fun times with friends, neighbors, coworkers and customers at City Feed over the years. These are the times that come together so strongly to create my sense of place and home in JP.