Note: This article first appeared on UncoverLA and is shared with their permission in partnership with Los Angeleno. You can subscribe to UncoverLA for local retail, fashion and lifestyle news here.
“It’s a mash-up between an art gallery and an international marketplace with a social conscience.”
When the pandemic shuttered scores of local businesses and social services, it also exacerbated the vulnerability of those in need. Community members with access to resources also stepped up, including downtown Culver City’s The Whole 9 art gallery.
What began as a COVID food bank for local students and their families resulted in Gratitude Market, a new globally-inspired grocery boutique that now shares space with the art gallery. Customers can now restock their pantries, kitchens, and yes, even their halls and walls, and there’s a permanent food pantry that’s open every Wednesday and “provides food for some of our neighbors, [from] our neighbors,” says shop owner and founder Lisa Schultz.
“When the lockdown happened in March, and it became clear we were going to have to close, I reached out to local community leaders to ask how we could use our resources to help,” explains Schultz. “Families of students in the local school district were in need of food, so we immediately turned The Whole 9 gallery into a food bank and, in partnership with our donors and the local community, organized a weekly distribution that included food we purchased, donated food, fruit from neighbors’ trees and other necessities.”
Schultz’s nonprofit organization, The Peace Project, created Culver City Shares, which provided $250,000 worth of food and necessities to 1,000 local families. The program “ensured that our neighbors, CCUSD families and our restaurant workers had enough food during the early months of COVID,” she explains.
In addition to the gallery’s existing offerings of handmade jewelry, blown glass decor, ceramics, home goods, art, toys and other artisanal giftables by local and international makers, shoppers can find a range of shelf-stable and refrigerated pantry staples, specialty foods from around the world and fresh bites.