A Black woman started a grocery store in Compton, California, to give her community access to supplies otherwise lacking in poor neighborhoods.

Kia Patterson worked in grocery stores for 17 years before becoming the owner of a Grocery Outlet in 2017. After completing training with the company, she felt like the company was dedicated to its franchisees.

“They really care. A lot of other companies are primarily about money and profit. They lose the people portion of the business, and that’s the main purpose of Grocery Outlet. You’re able to work with your family,” Patterson told The Los Angeles Sentinel. “I have my cousins working here with me, my brother, my niece and nephew. That’s really encouraging, and with most companies, you’re not allowed to do that.”

Ownership also gave Patterson a sense of freedom.

“I made the decision to own a Grocery Outlet so that I could have the freedom to be able to do what I want to do and not be pigeon-holed to anything,” she said. “Now I have the ability to set my own destiny.”

Before Patterson took over the store, there were nine employees. When she took charge, she had a staff of 25 people. She is willing to work beside her employees.

“I’m not one of those owners that dictates things. I mop the floor, I do car runs,” she said. “I’m very hands on with my team, and there’s nothing that I would ask them to do that I wouldn’t do myself.”

Patterson’s Grocery Outlet also helps a community in need. She hosts events to help the people who live near her store.

“It’s not only about providing good-quality food,” she told Civil Eats. “What I’ve always been about is giving back. Like I have a school drive at the end of August. It’s about playing that role, helping with fundraising with schools and being there not just to say, ‘Hey, come get your groceries from me’ but also helping out the community.”

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