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Exploring Life & Business with Dylan Foster of Aisle 5ive

Exploring Life & Business with Dylan Foster of Aisle 5ive

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dylan Foster.

Hi Dylan, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
So crazy enough, I met a homeless man in Deep Ellum one day years back, who gave me the idea of a lifetime in exchange for my time, attention, and the little change I had in my pocket. The thought never really occurred to me at that time that by giving this husband and father of two these simple things, I would in return bless my own cup to run over more than I could fathom. He told me to look around as we stood on the sidewalk of the main street and asked me how many grocery stores did I see around that people can purchase food from in Deep Ellum. As I noticed there were only two small convenience stores, he glanced at me, nodded and explained that I need to help bring life to food deserts in Dallas. I needed to give customers the choice of healthy foods.

From that day, I prayed and asked God to reveal to me how I could help those around me, and the answer He had already given me was Aisle 5ive. The day I met that elder father and husband of two, who happened to be homeless, was in 2016. Aisle 5ive was created in 2017 and is now in a place to finally make the difference it was created to make here in 2021. Today we’re ready to address food deserts with fresh fruits and veggies and provide clean water for people. Today we’re ready to help educate our customers, families and friends. Today we’re ready to grow and provide.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In no way, shape or form has it been a smooth ride but it’s definitely been a worthwhile, enlightening and right direction journey on this road. Even when things are tough, the answers to the dilemmas made sense whenever I stopped to think about it, or I’d eventually realized the goal was more obtainable than I initially considered. Locating vendors, obtaining the necessary permits, calculating predicted overhead costs, COVID, market regulations, barriers to entry and personal life are all major contributors to the success, burden, stress and lessons learned throughout this entire process which has made this worth it. Being able to wear different hats was a struggle at first because it forced me to learn about topics I didn’t typically find interesting, understood completely or simply didn’t know where to begin in order to complete the task at hand. Over time I started to adapt and quickly learn various topics in a more efficient manner. I had to learn to trust others to complete needed tasks by either contracting, partnering or simply purchasing their services. To be honest, one can alleviate so much of the struggle by working with the right people and trusting they’ll get the job done.

A person like myself is so used to doing everything on my own (to meet the standard I like) but would often miss a golden opportunity to lighten the load because I didn’t simply seek the appropriate help. Even now, finding a location for the physical grocery store has been difficult. Between the effects of Covid and some of the old redlining and barriers to enter the market still exist, which negatively impact Black & Brown business owners as well. In this industry, being a small business, a new business, you’re either highly sought out for or driven away from the financial support and capital access that other bigger corporations are afforded. The city of Dallas wants to help address the food desert issues but are more reluctant than not to support the bigger corporations to complete this task instead of the smaller businesses. In my experience, this same practice or mindset is often retained with lenders, banks, investors, and average everyday people. Despite our setbacks, we have always found an opportunity to break ahead, set an example and share what we have learned in our experiences. Struggles and problems will never change, but how you deal, talk about & react to these problems and struggles is what you can change for the perseverance of your business, which has been the perseverance of Aisle 5ive.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Aisle 5ive is a family & community-styled grocery store seeking to empower the community (the people) by the power of choice. Aisle 5ive serves through connecting the people to the local farm-fresh products and essential household items we all love and or may need. Aisle 5ive’s mission is to eradicate food deserts by providing fresh fruits & veggies and by providing clean water to our community (e.g. with the Flint Water Crisis). We offer customers the power of choice by providing fresh fruits & vegetables, organic produce, veganic produce and other natural products. Not only is Aisle 5ive a community grocery store but also a movement that promotes a loving environment to help fuel educational endeavors create career opportunities and a community forum where anyone can feel safe & empowered.

We are pursuing this mission in recognition of the need for our society to shift away from chemically dangerous genetically modified foods to natural, healthy, Veganic and Organic food sources. There is a huge want for consistent healthier food choices. Aisle 5ive seeks to help educate all customers on how to not only eat properly but also show customers how to grow crops, nutrition facts, and collaborate ideas on how to improve our environment. Healthy choices allow our body to grow properly and severely reduces the chances of long-term damaging health effects. Aisle 5ive will give shoppers a chance to learn, discuss and share more about what they’re experiencing and consuming. Aisle 5ive gives customers the power of choice. We want everyone to stay tuned as we prepare for our grocery store pop-up locations and grocery delivery service to launch here soon in 2021!

Who else deserves credit in your story?
All thanks, glory, and praise goes to the Most High! Glory to God! Praise be to Jesus Christ. Thankful for YHWH (God) sending his messenger to me that night, sparking the idea. Thankful to God for using my friends and colleagues to inspire and encourage me to start this business. I’ve met so many great people along this journey who have cared to share their thoughts and input on how I should operate this business. Aisle 5ive represents something bigger than just a grocery store. Aisle 5ive represents the numerous amounts of people who have shared their hearts, experience and educated perspectives on how this business can flourish. From the videos, photos, architect designs, brainstorm sessions, emails, texts, phone calls, references, mentor advice, investors, prayers, friendly reminders, pep talks. I’m thankful to you all. Glory to God above.

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Original Article Link: http://voyagedallas.com/interview/exploring-life-business-with-dylan-foster-of-aisle-5ive/