It’s no secret that something has been missing in Indian Head.
More than two decades have passed since Super Fresh closed its doors and boarded its windows, leaving residents of Indian Head without a grocery store inside town limits.
The timing was right then — in fact, it was long overdue — when local business owners Marilyn Weimer-Steele and Mark Steele decided to take the lead in the effort to bring fresh foods back to Indian Head.
As the owners of the thriving Clarity Coffee House, they saw the vacant Algonquin Building nearby and knew it was an opportunity to make the town a better place. And they knew they couldn’t do it alone.
“We saw a need and forged a path forward with the help of an amazing group of people,” Marilyn Weimer-Steele said.
The Oasis Fresh Foods Market Advisory Council
Local Leaders Bringing Fresh Food to Indian Head
Assembling an Advisory Council of local community and business leaders became a critical first step. Each member of the council volunteered to join the effort — receiving no financial returns — because they believed deeply that this project would have a significant and lasting impact on the Town of Indian Head.
Together, the council began to flesh out the vision for Oasis Fresh Foods Market, from identifying funding options to imagining how the space inside the building could be transformed.
The goal, Marilyn Weimer-Steele and Mark Steele have stressed, is not to get rich — it’s to make the town a better place.
Now Oasis Fresh Foods Market is moving forward with plans to open in 2023, offering fresh vegetables and produce, delicious meats and seafood, as well as a full range of supermarket staples. Space within the Algonquin Building will also be carved out for Papaleo’s Ice Cream, which will offer soft-serve treats, as well as take-home containers of Taharka Brothers gourmet ice cream.
Oasis will focus on hiring talented local professionals to run the business, with a goal of ultimately transitioning into an employee ownership trust.
Under this framework, vested employees are Oasis owners and will receive annual profit-sharing benefits. Additional profits will be reinvested into the grocery store, as well as in the Town of Indian Head.
This model is designed to position the grocery store for long-term success behind a dedicated and motivated team. It’s a complex process, but we envision the transition beginning within five years. It will help further establish Oasis Fresh Foods Market as an asset to the community for generations to come.
A Catalyst for Long-Term Prosperity
Every aspect of planning the future of Oasis Fresh Foods Market has been designed to ensure the long-term viability of the venture and the ongoing and escalating benefits that it will provide to the town.
“This initiative exemplifies much of what I have dedicated the last 30 years of my life to,” said Sandy Washington, LifeStyles of Maryland CEO and a member of Advisory Council. “It offers ‘a hand up, not out’ through employment, pride in ownership and a healthy lifestyle.”
John Flatley, who owns and operates La Plata’s Chick Fil-A franchise, is another member of the Advisory Council who sees the vast benefit that the store will provide not only to the town but to Naval Support Facility Indian Head, its servicemembers and civilians.
“In my 18 years with Chick-fil-A we have contributed food, time and energy to support the service members and their families at the base,” Flatley said. “The people of Indian Head deserve a thriving community where they can live, work, eat and play. I believe Oasis Fresh Foods Market is one of many critical pieces to the puzzle and now is the time to put this piece on the board.”
Along with private investment, the initiative has received supporting funds from critical local, state and federal sources. Now the Algonquin Building has been purchased, along with surrounding parcels that will provide a parking area as well as a community garden.
Construction plans are being finalized now, and more activity on the site will be noticeable in the coming months. Each day brings us closer to opening the doors of Oasis Fresh Foods Market and ushering in a new era in the Town of Indian Head.
“As a resident of Indian Head, I would love to see our community move from surviving mode to thriving mode,” said Aprol Felts Richardson. “A new grocery store with healthy and whole food choices will help the community soar.”