Aaron and Chyrese Hollingsworth are bringing value and a little history to residents with the new Grocery Outlet store in Mount Airy.
By Denise Clay-Murray
While you probably wouldn’t connect the two things, being a good professional musician and the owner of a good grocery store are a lot alike.
Both require an investment of time.
Both require understanding your learning everything about them to be a success. Both require making subtle changes in the discipline so that you can stand out.
Both require a little bravery.
And they’re both a part of the life of Aaron Hollingsworth, the co-owner of the new
Grocery Outlet on the corner of Hortter and Germantown Avenues.
Hollingsworth and his wife Chyrese, a nurse practitioner, are among the newest
operators in the 75-year-old Grocery Outlet chain, which specializes finding and purchasing name brand foods at wholesale prices and passing those savings on to customers. The store also has a wide selection of organic produce and other foods that would cost as much as 70% more elsewhere, Aaron Hollingsworth said.
“We’re in the same space as Aldi and Save-A-Lot,” Aaron said. “We offer a lot of things like organic vegetables and specialty foods at prices anywhere from 30 to 70% lower than what you’d pay at other grocery stores. That’s why we exist.”
Before the Hollingsworths became one of the few Black grocery store owners in Philadelphia, Aaron worked in retail, supply chain management and merchandising for 26 years.
But he wanted to be an entrepreneur, so he looked into Grocery Outlet. After entering the company’s program for independent operators, Aaron went looking for a place to start his new store.
When he saw Mt. Airy, the Detroit na tive knew he had found the right place for his business, Aaron Hollingsworth said.“I fell in love with it,” he said. “It was
reminiscent of the neighborhood I grew up in. [Mt. Airy] reminded me of the core values of family, community and small business entrepreneurship. It felt like home.”
On the day the SUN visited Grocery Outlet, Aaron Hollingsworth was restocking
the store’s shelves with such things as Pellegrino sparkling water, avocado tortilla chips and other snacks that would cost a lot more elsewhere. There was also case of meat, including a whole filet mignon for $21.
Customers were walking throughout the store, taking advantage of these finds.
As she sized up the containers of coffee in the beverage aisle, Gail Cummings had a decision to make.
The resident of East Mt. Airy had heard about the new grocery store when WDAS-FM broadcaster Patty Jackson had talked about it on her show and decided to visit. Now, she was trying to decide whether to get the big can of Maxwell House, or to get one of the smaller cans of another brand.
Thanks to the prices, she went home with both.
“I like it here,” Cummings said. “It’s better than Aldi and the prices are good.”
That’s music to the ears of Aaron Hollingsworth, who was also a keyboard player while he made his way through the business world. At one time, he was mentored by and played keyboards for gospel legends The Clark Sisters.
Since Philadelphia is home to several churches with robust musical programs — Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller, senior pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, has been a customer — Hollingsworth is hoping to go back to his musical ministry.
If you want to check out the Grocery Outlet, the store is open from 8am-9pm
Every day. Visit: www.groceryoutlet.com/grand-opening/mount-airy-pa for more information.
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