A new Northgate Gonzalez Market in the San Diego neighborhood of City Heights is the latest in a chain of family-owned grocery stores in Southern California that caters to the region’s Latino population.
43,000 square feet, the City Heights location rivals big-box corporate grocery stores in size and―like other Northgate locations―has unique touches. Northgate Markets promote healthy food, for instance, by using a color-coded shelf-signage system that calls attention to items that are low in sugar, cholesterol, or fat, or rich in fiber. Its weekly circular ads are in Spanish (with English subtitles) and its stores include community-banking outlets that offer check-cashing, bill-payment, and foreign-exchange services as well as phone-calling cards and international money transfers.
Construction of the City Heights location was financed, in part, through an $8.5 million loan from Capital Impact Parters (formerly NCB Capital Impact), a CDFI that worked in concert with California FreshWorks Fund. Part of Capital Impact’s motive was that Northgate’s business model is in line with one of Capital Impact’s core missions: promoting and investing in fresh-food outlets in underserved communities.
“Providing this financing made the difference between having a store there and not having a store there. one of the things we like about Northgate is they tend to source their food more locally than larger retailers. It does tend to keep money in the local community.” – Scott Sporte, CFO Capital Impact Partners
(Date of loan: 2011. Date of story publication: 2013)