Finding the Middle Path: Conscious Convenience Store Stocks Organic Snacks and Mystic Minerals
Less than a mile from Wawa and 7-Eleven, there’s another kind of convenience store tucked away on Frankford Avenue.
Since February 2016, Middle Path (2415 Frankford Ave.) has been serving the community as a “conscious convenience store,” providing low-cost organic products, minerals, incense and more. The store is owned and kept by Raymond Bungay.
When Middle Path began in 2013, Bungay’s idea was to travel and help consumers reach new levels of consciousness with organic and natural goods. But upon finding out he was expecting a child, Bungay decided to stay put in Fishtown and open up a brick and mortar location that would sell the same types of items.
Defined as a conscious convenience store, Middle Path is stocked with nutrient-dense foods like organic snacks and drinks, fruits and berries, protein bars and shakes. Healthcare and beauty products also line the shelves, including Dr. Bronner’s branded items. Compared to larger supermarkets that offer organic and ingredient-minded products, Bungay has narrowed the selections down for the community, and presented it in a very convenient manner.
“All that BS that you have to look for is already eliminated so that you’re getting the most nutrient-dense, highest quality beauty care products in a quick, easy kind of fashion,” Bungay said. “[My vision with the shop is] just being here in this area, being dug into this community and providing the community with a low-cost, affordable mineral shop in a very approachable [way].”
That’s right: minerals also make up a significant part of shop’s functions and have long been a large part of Bungay’s life. As a child, Bungay remembered seeing cubes of pyrite, which awakened in him a love of minerals. Now, the shop dispenses pyrite cubes along with other types of minerals and tumbled stones. One of Bungay’s favorites in the shop is a roughly rounded rock of lavender kunzite.
Many believe stones and crystals have healing qualities. Selling minerals, Bungay claims, allows him to provide a public service. Doing so through a convenience store has enabled Bungay to give back both easily and by the will of the customer.
“I need to make a living, but am trying to figure out how to make a living while still connecting with people’s lives and being a positive influence without being a burden on anybody else,” Bungay said.
Bungay made Blake Mogil, a local foreman, a blend of gems to wear around his neck for some problems he had. Mogil admitted that the necklace is currently adorning his lamp, but praised Middle Path for the personalized and customized mineral service.
“I’m sure the lamp is feeling good,” Bungay said.
Bungay says he makes suggestions for certain stones based on his customers’ physical and physiological needs. However, like a doctor, Bungay claims he’s not always right, so he encourages people to come in and dig through the massive amount of minerals Middle Path has.
“Take your time, dig through, get to know and feel the stones because it’s really about the connection and what they represent and what they represent to you,” Bungay said.
Within the array of minerals presented at Middle Path are fossils and higher-end specimens from around the world. These special items are also available for purchase. Bungay pulled out a tray of dinosaur teeth and droppings acquired from Morocco. He also revealed “Dolphin Money,” tiny cast-bronze dolphins used as currency during 550-230 B.C. in the Black Sea region. These items are sold for between $20-40.
Middle Path is also a place for local artists to exhibit their work. Pieces from local artists like Kimi and Pasta Boss hang on the walls of the shop. Paintings by Bungay’s father, who passed away within the last year, are displayed but not for sale.
Middle Path continues the convenience online. Some products found in the store can be purchased on Middle Path’s Etsy store. Bungay wants to expand its selection of healthcare and beauty products, as well as the size of the establishment, by moving to a bigger store in the neighborhood in the next 10 months. Bungay plans have a meditation space in the new store. Meanwhile, Bungay wants you to feel the good vibrations at the current Middle Path location.
“[Middle Path is] where you come in, get all this metaphysical kind of healing. Get your vibrations up. Get into a positive space, and move onward and upward,” Bungay said.