Corner Store Chats
Corner store owners, Sun Ja and Young Hwang have been part of the Hillcrest-Stuyvesant community for almost 27 years ever since they first opened James Corner Store back in 1992. James Corner Store is one of the only remaining Korean owned corner stores in Trenton serving a predominantly Black neighborhood on the west end of Trenton.
The first thing you notice when you step into the store is the photos of their customers over the years. The Hwangs take pride in sharing that they've known their customers since they were babies and now some of them have babies of their own. They've witnessed and shared the joys and grief of their customers celebrating births and deaths of loved ones.
The Hwangs joined the Trenton Healthy Corner Store Network in the spring of 2017. Since joining the network, they've increased their selection of fresh fruits and healthy snacks such as low fat yogurt. Their hit healthy snack item is the newly introduced $2 cut watermelon containers that their customers grab as an on-the-go snack.
This year the Hwangs decided to host The Food Trust's weekly Heart Smarts lessons to encourage their longtime customers to eat healthy and explore new recipes. During the four-week series, Sun Ja and Young were very proactive about letting their customers know about the upcoming lessons and encouraged every customer to participate. As a result, there were high participation at the store and close to 50% of the participants were return customers who often organized their family and neighbors to come.
After the lessons were done Sun Ja shared that her customers were asking when the next series will begin, "They (customers) really liked the lessons and are excited to see this program continue. I also had fun sharing with the customers about healthy eating, something we always thought about doing but never did because we didn't know a good way to do it. Heart Smarts gives us an opportunity to encourage our customers about wellness."