Locali Grown

A new eco-friendly, healthy food c-store opens in Los Angeles

Linda Abu-Shalback Zid, Senior Editor

LOS ANGELES -- For Greg Horos and Melissa Rosen, necessity was the mother of invention for their Locali Conscious Convenience store, which opened in Los Angeles last Thursday. "The idea was an amalgamation between my love for convenience stores and my wife's love for healthy food," Horos told CSP Daily News. "For me, it was like, 'How come I can never find a healthy sandwich or a good salad without having to go and pay an arm and a leg?' "

Locali, which roughly means "community" or "where it's happening" in Italian, seeks to make healthy eating and eco-friendly [image-nocss] household necessities available to people on the go-with many of the products provided by local artisans. "To support a local food artisan is better than going to a place where you would buy a, processed food may be cheaper, but you're not really putting money back into local economy-and that's something that's really important to us," Horos said.

Also, Locali promises not to stock high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, hygrogenated oils or genetically modified ingredients on the shelves. "I love my junk food, like any other guy," Horos said, adding that the store has options like grass-fed beef hot dogs and organic pretzels. "You can still come and have a treat, and still feel relatively good about the choices you're making."

Offerings also include a slushy machine, with Thursday's offering being a 100% organic ginger grape juice, sweetened with agave.

The opening of the 675-square foot store was a long-time coming. Plans to open in fall 2008 were hampered by construction permits, scheduling and other common new business snags, according to Horos. "All in all, we were able to open in about six to eight months time, though, which is pretty good in today's economy," he said. "We're kind of taking a chance in terms of going against the grain, because right now everybody's kind of pulling back. But everybody has to eat, and we feel that our offering is so unique and so strong that people will come out and hopefully support the community, support each other and sustainability."

And although the store is relatively small, Horos said it is packed with items such as eco-friendly moisturizers, solar-powered chargers, flushable diapers, a food section, a frozen section and a deli section.

The new location is also a prototype for what Horos hopes will be more stores in the Los Angeles area. "We'd certainly like to grow, after we see how this store does."

Horos and his crew stayed up all night preparing for the "soft launch" on Thursday. (A grand opening is being planned for sometime in February.) And from the sound of things, it was a busy day between welcoming visitors and answering their questions, answering phone calls and keeping track of inventory. "Five minutes haven't gone by where someone hasn't come in, wanted to check out the store, walk through, purchase some items or purchase lunch. I see a hole in my beer section I have to fill, which is always good," he said.

As of lunchtime, many visitors were interested in salads and M Cafe de Chaya-branded macrobiotic products-as well as the store's offerings of about 75 organic and sustainable wines.

Although Horos said the morning was "kind of a blur," he said he did appreciate the community's interest in Locali. "We're really excited to be here, because of the members of our community," he said. "We kind of want to kind of take the community with us as we grow in the community, as opposed to saying, 'We are an entity unto ourselves.' It kind of feels good to feels good to feel that love on your first day."