Virginia non-profit purchases Richmond grocery store, provides training opportunities for people with autism

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Posted at 4:29 PM, Sep 01, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Giving opportunities to those who may not have them, is what local nonprofit Commonwealth Autism is hoping to do by purchasing a locally-owned grocery store, Good Foods Grocery.

The organization said they bought the Bon Air grocery store while hoping to continue the operations of the store while also creating Virginia’s first-of-its-kind grocery vocational training center for people with autism.

This would be part of the nonprofit's new initiative to create vocational programs.

On Monday, Donnie Caffery closed the deal with Tyler Hart, the President and CEO of Commonwealth Autism.

Hart said all employees were asked to stay, including Caffrey, who is staying on as an advisor for a year.

"We think what is here is really great and we just want to add to that,” Hart said.

As the grocery store continues to operate, Commonwealth Autism is now busy behind the scenes working to construct its training program focused on building social and motor skills.

Hart said there was a big gap in unemployment for autistic adults out of school with autism. He said that can range from 60% to 80% at times, which is why he wanted to create a solution for that.

Hart said they felt Good Foods Grocery was the right fit because the store had positive profit margins and already had established clientele.

Caffrey, who has owned the store for over 40 years said it was an exciting match when he saw the nonprofit had applied to purchase it.

“It’s setting this organization up for a tremendous success to serve the autistic world - it gets anyone excited,” he shared.

Caffery said it was time to sell the grocery store because the store was having steady success. He also said he needed to slow down and spend more time with family as he will celebrate his 69th birthday soon.

Commonwealth Autism hopes to have the training program up and running in early spring.

You can learn more about the program, and sign up here.

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