FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Residents of Fort Wayne’s south side may have a new place to shop for groceries this March. The Utopian Community Grocery will be located at 608 Oxford Street in an area that has been called a “food desert” because of the lack of availability of nutritious and affordable food.

“We not only want to provide food options for our neighborhood, but also healthy food options,” commented Ty Simmons, the founder of Utopian Community Grocery in a press release. “There is a real need to have healthy food options available, and through our network we can provide them and help save people money at the same time.”

According to the news release, Utopian Community Grocery will use a network of local and regional farmers, suppliers and distributors as a means to have fresh produce available year-round.

Simmons says the store is not only needed, but wanted.

“They want fresh produce at a low-cost to help them eat better. But they also want the education part of it, because most don’t understand eating better and eating fresh, and eating healthier,” says Simmons.

Simmons says those behind Utopian Community Grocery have bigger plans, and the grocery store is just the beginning.

“We intend to have a restaurant, coffee and juice bar, a salon with a masseuse and nail tech, a conference room that is available now for rent for small parties or events, and a couple other business entities.”

Simmons says the Oxford Street location will serve as an incubator to these businesses, with the hope they will be able to find their own locations after a few years. Then, new businesses will be welcomed into the location.

“I hope that we can see that we have a spirit of cooperation and collaboration that is growing on the south side. We have a great need to address our own issues, and this is an opportunity we can get in there and all work together to try and improve somethings we can improve on our own,” says Condra Ridley, vice president of Utopian Community Grocery.

Residents can learn about the grocery store at two upcoming open houses scheduled from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on February 15 and February 29.

The grocery will offer memberships which start at $5.00 a month, however a membership won’t be required to shop there.

“With the monthly fee, our members will immediately start to receive discounts that will more than pay for it,” said Simmons. “Pending on the membership level, our discounts range from 10% to as much as 30% off purchases.”

Utopian Community Grocery will be giving away $500 worth of food at their open house to one lucky winner. Other prizes will be given away and there will be catered food from Elijah’s Restaurant and Bakery.