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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Philadelphia mayor: Jeff Brown of ShopRite enters the race

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Grocery retailer magnate Jeff Brown plans to announce his run for Philadelphia mayor on Wednesday, changing into the primary non-politician to enter the race.

He’s the fifth Democrat to throw his hat into the ring. He teased his marketing campaign brand and web site through a tweet printed Tuesday morning.

Greatest recognized for his Brown’s Tremendous Shops assortment of 12 ShopRites and Recent Grocers all through the Philadelphia space, Brown has primarily been soft-launching a mayoral marketing campaign for effectively over a yr. He’s been serving to fundraise with a PAC, and saved up a staunch criticism of the soda tax.

Who’s the person past the ShopRite brand, and what can we study his priorities from the way in which he runs his grocery store firm?

Right here’s what to know as Brown pivots from companies government to hopeful metropolis government.

Utilizing grocery shops to present again

Brown, 58, is a fourth era grocer who hails from the far Northeast. He has used his franchise to pilot a corporatized model of meals justice.

A handful of shops beneath the Brown’s Cooks Market title are in traditionally underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods, like Parkside and Looking Park, the place there may be restricted entry to inexpensive, wholesome meals choices. Brown has employed a whole lot of previously incarcerated folks to work in his shops and operates a enterprise incubator out of his Eastwick ShopRite, providing entrepreneurs an opportunity to promote merchandise throughout the grocery store places.

Within the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he cofounded the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund, which offered $3,000 forgivable loans to over a thousand Pa. small companies that struggled to entry federal reduction funding.

Extra just lately, Brown has partnered with native Black-owned companies to create pop-up retail areas inside his shops, together with The Higher Field, which has obtained nationwide consideration for Philly-fying Asian delicacies, and North Philly-based egg roll purveyor Rock and Rolls.

“Once I look out at our scenario in Philadelphia, I feel we’re plagued with a really cussed poverty and low minority participation in enterprise,” Brown instructed The Inquirer in 2021. “I feel that if we’re all going to reside right here, we have to handle that.”

Throughout a dialog with Derrick Cain of Resolve Philly this summer season, Brown famous most of his shops are situated close to gun violence hotspots, so he feels a proximity to the disaster after certainly one of his workers was shot at a bus cease. At first of 2021, Brown donated reward playing cards to a profitable gun buyback occasion sponsored by Metropolis Council.

Pushed into politics by the soda tax?

If there’s one factor the informal Philly shopper is aware of about Brown, is that he’s a staunch opponent of the soda tax. He even went as far as to say the signature undertaking of Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration pressured him to shutter a West Philly ShopRite.

For a refresher: The tax is a 1.5% levy on sugary drinks. It has generated over $300 million in income, with the cash designated to fund issues like common pre-k and the Rebuild program, which has been steadily renovating playgrounds, swimming pools and recreation facilities round Philadelphia.

Brown was upset concerning the tax not as a result of it made soda dearer, however as a result of he thought it was main buyers to only shift their grocery hauls to shops outdoors town. As proof, he pointed to numbers from that Haverford Avenue location — it noticed an total gross sales drop after the tax was enacted, however candy drinks made up simply 5% of the decline.

Brown claimed the choice to shut the shop wasn’t political, however the forwards and backwards between him and Kenney did set the stage for Brown’s appraisal of metropolis management.

“I’m not shy about the truth that I feel we want a distinct mayor,” he stated in 2019.

Fundraising standing

Public data as of mid-November don’t present Brown’s formal marketing campaign committee. However the Philly Progress PAC — which Brown has helped with fundraising prior to now — took in $934,000 throughout 2021, due partly to a number of donations that run effectively over town’s particular person marketing campaign contribution limits.

Ought to Philly Progress pivot to change into the chief monetary assist of Brown’s mayoral marketing campaign, it will likely be essentially the most any mayoral candidate has raised to this point. As of October, Rebecca Rhynhart’s marketing campaign had essentially the most money available, round $769,000.

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