"I live two blocks away from here [in Belhaven]," Emily said. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, I became aware of how much trash we were producing, especially since we were having to get so many things delivered. I wanted to make sure that we were being thoughtful with what we brought into our home and try to recycle and reuse as much as possible, and also purchase products that fit in line with that. Which got my wheels turning - wouldn't it be amazing if someone in-town had all of this, right here in Jackson?"
Armed with her new vision, Emily started a test-run pop-up shop at Ecoshed (now The Plant) during the summer of 2021, aptly named Collective Good. As the meeting and events space continued to evolve, so did Emily's concept. "I had to decide if this was something I was still interested in and passionate about. And I was," she said.
The team at Belhaven Town Center was excited to welcome the prospect of a neighborhood grab-n-go market, nestled seamlessly among other community gathering spots like Elvie's, Fertile Ground Beer Co., The Terrace, and the soon-to-open Italian eatery, Pulito Osteria. That enthusiasm spurned Emily to lay the groundwork for Beans & Bananas, the intentionally curated, sustainable grocery market, home goods, and counter service shop, officially opening in early January 2023.
"That's always been my foundation for opening a business. I can't do anything unless people are excited [about it]," Emily said. "The idea may have originated with me, but this happened because so many other people wanted to see it through. Ideas are great, but the work behind it - from the design team to the construction crew, to the landlords and local makers who will sell products here - that's how it's come to life. All of these people care as much as I do about this neighborhood and Jackson. You can teach anyone to do just about anything, but you can't make them care."
From Montessori-style toys to eco-conscious gift items and specialty produce, meat, dairy, and shelf products, customers can look forward to plenty of thoughtful sundries offered at all price points. Beans & Bananas also houses its own small bites and sandwich counter, where shoppers can pop in and grab a snack for themselves or their kids as they shop, dine, and drink in BTC. "It's been rewarding to see the community get behind it [at our December soft opening] and be encouraged by what we're bringing in," Emily said. "We want people to tell us what they would like to see here because this space is for them."
Emily makes it clear that they still want shoppers to support local staples like Corner Market and think of Beans & Bananas as the spot to come when you need something special to elevate the ‘everyday’ for yourself, a loved one, or a little one. "We want it to be where you can come in multiple times a week and feel like you don't have to spend a ton of money for a great, lasting product," she said. "Maybe you stop in and get a birthday present one day, and then the next, you buy peanut butter or a local jam because you’ve run out at home."
Right down to the name, it's the working mother of three’s focus on attainable placemaking for both her’s and others' households that makes Beans & Bananas more than the sum of its parts.
"We worked on names for months, and nothing was really sticking," Emily said. "My husband and I would go through these brainstorming sessions out in the front yard. One day I just said, 'How about 'Beans and Bananas?'' My son's name is Hillis, and I call him 'Hilly Bean.' My daughter's name is Hannah, so we call her "Hannah Banana.' People joke that I have three children," she laughs. "Our youngest is Lindsey - we nicknamed him 'Lindy Cakes' - so maybe one day we'll add something to honor that, too.”
"This is the kind of place I want to exist for them," Emily said. "I want there to be places like this in the world. So here we are. It's playful. It ties back to food. And it ties back to family."