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Kansas City grocery opens with Amazon technology to change the way we shop and eat

J.M. Banks, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Fashion Daily News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new grocery store opened Friday in Kansas City’s East Crossroads, bringing not only healthy and organic food to residents but also state-of-the-art technology and a venue for local businesses to expand their reach.

Community Groceries held its grand opening, and owner Kortney Lee and staff are hoping to revolutionize the grocery store experience.

“I was always focused on providing better, healthier snacks to the urban core. I started that out with my vending machines,” says Lee, who has owned health-based vending machines at various YMCAs for seven years and now owns several East Side grocery stores.

“When you think about a traditional grocery store, you go in, find what you are looking for, you wait in a line to get checked out by a cashier. When I think what a community store looks like, we involve local vendors, which allows us to have conversations with our customers and meet their needs.”

Lee, a Kansas City native, grew up where residents did not have access to many grocery stores, let alone fresh and healthy options. So he is excited to hopefully be the change.

He claims this is the first grocery store fitted with Amazon technology to streamline the shopping experience. Upon entering, customers scan their credit or debit card (Amazon One hand scan and Apple Pay are also available). The ceiling is lined with over 100 cameras that track each shopper along with items selected from the shelves. Each shelf is equipped with a weight sensor that also tracks the items selected. Before customers leave, the groceries are automatically charged to their cards.

“It enables us to see a lot of metrics we wouldn’t see in the traditional sense, and we are able to use the data. We are also able to pass that information along to the small business owner to help them track sales and trends,” says Lee. He says they don’t keep personal information, just data on items sold.


Lee looks to use the opportunity to give local entrepreneurs an outlet to provide their goods on a larger scale. Many grassroots businesses are confined to selling their products at vendor events, on social media and by word of mouth. According to Lee, a third of the store’s shelf space will be dedicated to local minority businesses.

Iyshia Sims, owner of Amiracle Body Butter and More, was happy to be among the number of small businesses on the shelves. A St. Louis native who has lived in Kansas City for four years, Sims saw a post on social media looking for local small business owners.

“The visibility and credibility it brings means a whole lot. Having your products in the store just helps you to get your name out to people who may have never heard of your business,” says Sims.

The local section is stocked with candles, herbs, vitamins, lotions, salsas and much more. The local produce is all pre-cut into portions to help customers reduce waste and spoilage.

Eze Redwood stopped in to check out the new location Friday morning and was impressed and excited about what the future holds for the upstart grocery store. A Kansas City resident for the past 15 years, he has felt the lack of healthy grocery stores.

“I don’t see many stores in the city. You definitely don’t see ones using technology and cutting-edge methods of convenience,” says Redwood. “I know the team here is really community active, and I am looking forward to supporting it.”

©2023 The Kansas City Star. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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