Small Business Spotlight | Fulton County | Region 3
When you walk into The Establishment Market, you are instantly greeted with the smell of fresh produce, a warm smile, and the feeling that you may have just arrived home.
Pauline Warrior Nunnally and her husband, Eric, are the owners of The Establishment, a boutique grocer located on Atlanta’s Westside along the Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd corridor.
The market was conceived to represent the five established food groups and eradicate the food desert in deserving communities. By definition, a food desert is an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. And surprisingly, Atlanta has quite a few of them in pockets throughout the city.
With Pauline’s past experience in state economic development – she worked for the Georgia Department of Economic Development and served as director of Georgia’s Mentor Protégé Program – and Eric’s background as an entrepreneur, The Nunnallys decided to get involved and find a solution for their community. In 2016, they opened the doors to The Establishment Market to offer a wide variety of top-shelf grocery, household and non-consumable items.
But it has since become something so much more than a grocery store – it’s a place where folks come for nutritional advice, where kids show off their progress reports, and where good conversation and a friendly check-in are part of every visit.
“We are a true mom and pop store,” says Pauline. “And that’s what people like about us. We check on each customer and tailor our inventory to what they want. We even sell old-fashioned drinks.”
Their overall mission is not only to contribute to community economic development but also workforce development. They pride themselves on being community-based and listening to their customers when it comes to their needs and wants. They bring in foods that allow their patrons the opportunity to build meals that make sense for their diet.
On May 18th, The Establishment celebrated two years in business with a “Community Day.” State Director of Rural Development for the USDA, Joyce White, was standing with Pauline when a local patron ecstatically came up to her with a handful of turnip greens. She couldn’t contain her excitement when she told Pauline how her diabetes has declined significantly over the past few months because of the nutritional changes she’s made.
“When you are in a community where one of your goals is to educate, you want to speak to that nutritional component. When you walk in the door, you may see peaches and oranges, but we also want to introduce you to things you may not be familiar with…like spaghetti squash, variations of apples and different recipes.” -Pauline Warrior Nunnally, Co-founder of The Establishment Market
Through partnerships with Georgia Grown and other vendors like Coca-Cola, they have been able to expand their efforts and offerings. They also provide locally-sourced foods including Springer Mountain Chicken, Buckhead Beef, and Inland Seafood.
On the community side, they’ve partnered with nearby senior housing communities and local schools. And a number of their employees have been selected directly from the community.
According to Pauline, “Eric is a whizzo. He keeps up with the stock market, can converse with the highest echelon of business and civic leadership, but then can also encourage an adult facing hardship or a child who may have a struggle. He is really capable of meeting each person at their level and treating everyone the same.”
“It is very touching for me to see how Eric and the team treat everyone who walks through the doors with dignity and respect,” says Kimberly Knight, outreach specialist for the state’s Entrepreneur & Small Business (ESB) team. “That’s the thing that resonates with me the most.”
Pauline has worked directly with Kimberly and the ESB team, and she has received valuable marketing and business advice that has taken The Establishment to the next level. Overall, their vision is to replicate their market 40 times throughout Georgia and in rural communities.
“We want our customers to think, ‘Ok here’s a place where no matter what I look like, no matter what I’ve done, they’re never going to judge me,’” Pauline says. “We want them to feel comfortable. And then we want them to get a pear or leave with some butterfly shrimp.”
Next time you’re in Atlanta or need to make a run to the store, head on over to the Establishment Market at 3565 Martin Luther King, Jr Drive SW.