A Commentary on the Healthy Community Stores Case Study Project: Implications for Retailers, Policy, and Future Research

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



International journal of environmental research and public health








case studies; community food store; food access; healthy food retail; locally owned; low-income; qualitative


In the United States, low-income, underserved rural and urban settings experience poor access to healthy, affordable food. Introducing new food outlets in these locations has shown mixed results for improving healthy food consumption. The Healthy Community Stores Case Study Project (HCSCSP) explored an alternative strategy: supporting mission-driven, locally owned, healthy community food stores to improve healthy food access. The HCSCSP used a multiple case study approach, and conducted a cross-case analysis of seven urban healthy food stores across the United States. The main purpose of this commentary paper is to summarize the main practice strategies for stores as well as future directions for researchers and policy-makers based on results from the prior cross-case analyses. We organize these strategies using key concepts from the Retail Food Environment and Customer Interaction Model. Several key strategies for store success are presented including the use of non-traditional business models, focus on specific retail actors such as store champions and multiple vendor relationships, and a stores' role in the broader community context, as well as the striking challenges faced across store locations. Further exploration of these store strategies and how they are implemented is needed, and may inform policies that can support these types of healthy retail sites and sustain their efforts in improving healthy food access in their communities.


Global Health