“Fresh” isn’t just a part of the name, and Carla’s Fresh Market isn’t your average neighborhood grocery store. Owner Ariell Ilunga wants to do things differently, and to stand out from the current crop of boutique grocers popping up around Los Angeles. From their hiring practices, to the produce and products they source, Carla’s Fresh Market is offering a fresh perspective on how to operate a community-focused business.

Situated on quiet corner on Avenue 50, a short walk from busy Figueroa Street, the shop is a vast, airy space chock full of warm hues, hand painted details, handsome textures and exquisite materials. The checkerboard floor tiles and exposed ceiling beams make the interior feel even more vast than the store’s 3,000 square foot footprint would imply.

Upon entering, the first thing you notice is the produce (very appropriate considering the name). While not overly abundant, it is a thoughtful curation of fruits and vegetables, as all of the produce is sourced from BIPOC-owned farms throughout Southern California. Through her volunteer work and time spent managing the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, Ilunga learned how access to fresh food is essential in building a healthy community. That same meticulous care is applied to the sourcing of goods and products throughout the store, working with a variety of artisans and producers based in California. Naturally, they also carry many of the trendy products that pop up on social media, like Graza olive oil, Fish Wife tinned fish, and soup dumplings from MìLà.

There are a few other elements that set Carla’s apart from the competition, one of them being a beautiful full-service coffee bar. The gorgeous, emerald and pink quartz terrazzo counter tops from the checkout area are mirrored at the other end of the store at the coffee bar. Fresh bread and pastries are supplied by Los Angeles pastry chef Sasha Pilligian, and a small variety of artisanal meats and cheeses is also offered. A few steps away you’ll find the Bottle Shop, which houses a vast range of craft beers and wines curated by sommelier LaShae Delaney. There is even a healthy selection of non-alcoholic beverages to choose from.

Carla’s wants to be more than a local business. It strives to be a part of the community. They look to hire their employees from the surrounding neighborhood, offering higher wages and training in transferable skills. In essence, Carla’s Fresh Market is redefining the concept of a neighborhood grocery store by emphasizing community engagement and thoughtful curation of products. Owner Ariell Ilunga’s commitment to sourcing from BIPOC-owned farms and collaborating with local artisans reflects a deep dedication to sustainability and supporting local economies. Carla’s aims to create a welcoming space where residents can not only shop but also connect and feel a sense of belonging within their community. Through innovative practices and a fresh perspective, Carla’s Fresh Market is paving the way for a new era of community-focused businesses in Los Angeles.