Wilmington, North Carolina is now home to its first-ever vegan grocery store, UpBeet Market. Port City Daily reports that the market quietly opened for business in early June in the downtown neighborhood of Chandler’s Wharf.
“Everything in here is vegan and cruelty-free,” said store owner Jess Marler, who decided to open UpBeet Market in order to offer the growing vegan community and veg-curious individuals a place where they can shop for food worry-free. Though there are health-focused grocery stores in North Carolina, UpBeet Market will be the state’s first completely vegan shop. “It’s super frustrating when at the end of the day you want to pop in, grab a few things for a meal and go home. You double all of your trips just trying to hunt down the vegan version.”
The shop will stock various pantry staples as well as specialty vegan cheese and snacks, such as a “whole tower of vegan jerky,” kombucha on tap from local brewery Panacea Brewing Company, baked goods and fresh coffee, apparel, art, and more. Recently, the shop also added frozen treats from Atlanta-based dairy-free gelato brand, Revolution Gelato, which can be served plain or as a sundae, to its itinerary.
“I didn’t expect to have such a big following right when we opened the doors,” Marler said. She plans to continue to expand UpBeet Market’s offerings to include more fresh produce. Eventually, Marler hopes that her small vegan grocery store will be a staple of the local vegan community. “This is our baby step into hopefully expanding into being a vegan Mecca. That’s our goal; that’s the endgame.”
While larger grocery stores throughout the U.S. continue to expand their offerings of vegan products, sparked by rising demand among consumers, independent shops are sprouting up across the country. In Mississippi, a small, organic market called “Ugly Carrot,” which will support stock produce from local farmers and serve cold-pressed juice, is in the works. Sweet to Lick Market, Long Island, New York’s first vegan grocery store, opened last summer. In April, a small, rural town in upstate New York welcomed its first plant-based grocery store, aptly named “The Vegan Grocery Store.”
Image Credit: UpBeet Market