I Visited the World’s First Black-Owned, Autonomous Grocery Store — Here’s What It Was Like

published Feb 9, 2022
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Nourish + Bloom
Credit: Ni'Kesia Pannell

One thing I’ve grown to love doing over the years is grocery shopping. Although many people cite it as one of their least favorite things to do, I actually feel that it’s quite therapeutic. I do understand the stress of the task, though, and once you couple that with the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, getting groceries delivered at home from online grocery stores just makes sense.

If, however, you still want the experience of getting out and enjoying the day without having to spend a bulk of it standing in line waiting to check out at your local grocery store, allow me to introduce you to Nourish + Bloom Market, the world’s first Black-owned, autonomous grocery store located in Fayetteville, Georgia.

Credit: Ni'Kesia Pannell

If you’ve never visited an autonomous grocery store (which I had not prior to stopping by this one), it’s a cashier-less store that let’s you shop without having to stand in line for check-out. Basically, all you do is connect your payment through an app in advance and through video tracking and weighted shelves, the business is able to tie your purchases to the things you pick up. Although there are other autonomous grocery stores around, Nourish + Bloom is the first Black-owned company using this model. And because it’s located in Fayetteville (just about 30 minutes or so from Atlanta), I had to stop by and see what it was all about.

Upon entering the location, there is a foyer of sorts with an employee there ready to help if you just so happen to need it. For those who have already signed up through the app, all you need to do is scan it near the second entrance (to get into the actual shopping area), while those that haven’t signed up can take the opportunity to do just that.

Credit: Ni'Kesia Pannell

Once you’ve entered the shopping area, though (which only has one way in and one way out as a fair warning), it’s just like any other small grocery store that you love to visit in your neighborhood — except, you shouldn’t touch anything if you’re not going to buy it. Because the shelves work based on weight and the cameras track everything you pick up to your account, you don’t want to be charged for something you didn’t take home with you.

So what’s offered in the store, you ask? Well, (almost) everything you would expect! The store isn’t the size of big retailers like Whole Foods, Aldi, or Walmart, but with the space offered, you’ll still be able to find a lot of the same things they offer. From an array of your favorite chips and butters to areas made specifically to highlight household items and wellness, Nourish + Bloom could potentially be a one-stop shop for that low-lift trip to the grocery store. And, if you happen to get hungry while there, you can also order yourself an item from their bistro both through the app and while you’re there!

Credit: Ni'Kesia Pannell

Although it is encouraged for you to download the app and skip the checkout process, if you just want to stop by to check it out (and don’t happen to be going in with someone who is already signed up to scan you in), you can always have one of the Nourish + Bloom workers pick up the items for you while you wait and scan out yourself at one of their two payment kiosks.

So the big question I know you’re waiting to ask is, would I visit again? Ultimately, my answer is absolutely yes! And I do hope that sooner than later, the owners — Jamie Michael Hemmings and Jilea Hemmings (who was actually at the store when I went and was the sweetest!) — expand in an area that’s a little closer to where I’m located.

Have you visited an autonomous grocery store before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!