Holly Freishtat, Baltimore's food policy director, said it is important for grocery companies to adjust their business to the specific location.
"When you're bringing a grocery store back into the city, you can't just bring in the suburban model," said Freishtat, who has met with UpLift representatives to discuss Klein's plans in Baltimore.
The stores can also train neighborhood residents for long-term employment, Freishtat said.
About 230 people were hired to work at the Parkville store, with most of the new hires coming from surrounding neighborhoods, Klein said. He added that the company also plans to hire local workers for the Howard Park store, which is expected to open in mid-2013.
With the opening of the Parkville store and construction about to begin in Howard Park, Klein is beginning to think farther down the road.
Simply expanding the chain would have gratified him a few years ago, he said. But today he has greater aspirations.
"Now, it's more about the type of company that I run than the size of the company," Klein said. "I'm hoping to open as many stores that I can reasonably open in Baltimore … and maintain the level of service that I want to maintain."
So far, Klein's customers seem pleased.
"It's nice, it's clean. The choices are awesome," said Ebony Love, a New York native who lives about a mile from the new Parkville ShopRite.
Jay Loane, who lives in Harford County but has taken up shopping at the Parkville store, makes use of its motorized scooters — and says the staff is always willing to bring a scooter out to his car when he arrives.
"You get full service and then some," Loane said.
Still, not everyone is happy that Klein's is planning to open stores in Baltimore. The local branch of the United Food and Commercial Workers union has been picketing the Parkville store.
Ellis Staten, a union representative who was passing out fliers last week, said he would prefer that a unionized grocer expand into Baltimore and Baltimore County. The local represents employees of area grocery stores, including Safeway, Giant and Shoppers.
The union hopes that area residents will shop at unionized stores, Staten said, adding that it will continue picketing for six months to a year.
The picketers don't faze Klein — he's seen them before outside his family's newly opened suburban stores.
"It's very important to us to be able to have a relationship with our employees directly," said Klein, adding that he thinks unions create a barrier between workers and employers.
Klein has become a fixture in the Parkville store, and employees smile and wave at him and shake his hand as he passes.
"It's a family-owned store," said Mark Price, a Pikesville resident who works at the customer service desk. "You really get that personal attention."
A suburban grocer moves into Baltimore
With nonprofit backing, Klein's takes on the urban market
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