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Bed-Stuy Healthy Grocery Set to Open

By Paul DeBenedetto | December 13, 2013 10:53am
 Dylan Ricards and Sheila Akbar will open Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local next week.
Dylan Ricards and Sheila Akbar will open Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local next week.
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Facebook/Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — After weeks of pushbacks and problems linked to October's government shutdown, a new grocery store designed to bring healthy and affordable groceries to Bed-Stuy will finally open next week.

Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local, the crowdfunded brainchild of Sheila Akbar and Dylan Ricards, will host a tasting party to celebrate the shop's completion on Monday, followed by an official opening on Wednesday, the owners said.

"I don't really believe it's going to happen," Akbar said. "It's thrilling, it's really exciting."

The couple raised more-than $11,000 through their Indiegogo campaign in June, and worked with local nonprofit Bridge Street Development Corporation to build their business plan and pick their 210 Patchen Ave. location.

But they hit an unexpected snag — the government shutdown held up Small Business Association loans, and the two were unsure if they would be able to get the approximately $100,000 needed to finish the project.

In order to move the project forward, Akbar said she took out a "huge" loan in her own name, and the couple was able to finish the project and hire people to work in the shop.

Monday's tasting party will feature a DJ, discounted gift cards and free samples from some of the food artisans the shop works with, including beef jerky from SlantShack, produce from the Village Fishmonger and Bushwick-produced vinegar-based drink Switchel, among others.

While the store still isn't completely finished — a proposed butcher counter has been postponed for three to six months — supporters are already excited for its opening, leaving messages of support on the store's Facebook page

"People have been very enthusiastic," Akbar said. "What they care about is fresh produce."