Bella Vista Natural Foods: "It Becomes Where We Belong"
1010 S. 9th Street
The mosaic storefront at 1010 South 9th street has had many lives. It had its record store life, baffling Italian Market food vendors and providing opportunities for shoppers to get a little Miles Davis along with their garlic, fish and onions. Then it had a long, beloved life as Molly’s Bookstore—it’s green, cookbook-laden carts out front a familiar memory to many. Most recently, in the past year in fact, it has become Bella Vista Natural Foods, a local and organic health food store on one of the densest strips of fresh food in the city. Surprisingly, an organic grocery seems to be the one genre of food that was missing on the market, and so far it’s doing well.
Molly Russakoff, proprietor of all aforementioned businesses, is committed to remaining an Italian Market business-owner, in whatever capacity she can. When her bookstore—also a popular venue for literary readings—could no longer compete with neither Amazon nor Barnes and Noble, she thought about what she could do next. She wanted to create a sustainable business (for the community and her family) but also something that “would really be an addition to the neighborhood.” Molly hopes to eventually transition the store into a member-operated food cooperative, like Mt. Airy’s Weaver’s Way or West Philadelphia’s Mariposa food co-op. She hopes that a food cooperative will function as a neighborhood gathering spot like the bookstore once did.