Conway, South Carolina
As the pastor of a local church, Cheryl Adamson is not your typical business owner.
But her business – locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables – reflects her values and beliefs in giving back and supporting her local community. That’s why she’s bringing CHOPS Produce & Cannery back to her home in Conway. The store was open for three years before the pandemic forced it to close for 18 months.
“I asked the Lord. “Well, what should I do now? And he said, ‘Take what you got in your hand,’ said Adamson, pastor of Palmetto Baptist Missionary Church. “And what we had on hand was four raised beds in the church and three raised beds in the children’s community that we serve, and then we had eight raised beds in the community garden.”
Much of the seasonal produce sold at CHOPS is grown in gardens and farms in Conway. On a recent visit, the store had onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, and a dozen other options. In one corner was sugar cane, a gift from a local farmer who wanted to showcase the staple food that has grown in the area for centuries.
The produce store is located in a USDA defined food desert, which means that at least 1/3 of the locals live at least 1 mile from a large grocery store. The store will accept SNAP EBT, the electronic payment system used for government food aid.
“This neighborhood is surrounded by convenience stores and fast food restaurants,” Adamson said. “It puts the community at risk because the choices they have for food are highly processed, high in sugar, fat and salt. Many people in the African American community have chronic illnesses that put them at risk anyway, so bad food makes it worse. “
The store opens on Saturday October 9.
Adamson didn’t want the space to be all about selling groceries. She also wanted him to provide jobs for the local community, especially black-owned businesses. She has two other businesses that operate in it. Both businesses are owned by black women.
The shop also has a juice bar, called Juice Crush, which gets its name from the fact that the menu items are themed around the different stages of a romantic crush. Drinks include ‘The Text’ Hello ‘,’ Just an Adventure ‘and’ Like a Virgin ‘Detoxifier’. Juice Crush, run by sisters Labria Strong and Shaquasia Coleman, also sells infused spring waters and smoothies.
“You have a crush that ‘plays games’ and doesn’t do what you want them to do or it doesn’t turn out the way you need it to,” Strong said. Or when you get that crush you’re ‘Boo’d Up’ now or maybe it’s’ Just a Fling. “”
Strong and Coleman decided to open the juice bar after making various concoctions to help their mother, Edna Strong, while she was undergoing chemotherapy a few years ago. All of the drinks are aimed at helping with health issues commonly encountered by black residents, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and joint pain, Strong said.
“Our target audience has always been to help the African American community, with us getting better and better,” Strong said. “When we had the opportunity to enter a desert (food) community, we definitely took the” opportunity to help.
However, the shop is not all about fruit. It is home to the Bling Tee Shop, selling dazzling shirts and clothing operated by Kylie Kinsale.
“It will bring a greater variety of people to our store,” said Adamson. “The three companies will prosper together. So what we do is not only provide fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy food, but we also serve as a business incubator for young women in our community.
CHOPS Produce and Cannery is located at 505 Church St., Conway, SC. For more details, visit facebook.com/CHOPSproduce/.