Paul Quinn College President Michael J. Sorrell has issued a call to action. The Highland Hills community and Paul Quinn College challenge the city to build a grocery store and a pharmacy, and create a solid neighborhood development plan before asking the College and local residents to support the trash measure.
If they won't bring the store, you bring the store. Paul Quinn College definitely has been an innovator with their acclaimed Food for Good Farm, transforming the football field into a huge vegetable produce farm. For whatever reason, the major chains don't see the value of having a store here. Even when Walmart called, they picked the areas of Fort Worth Ave in North Oak Cliff, 35 & Ledbetter, and Piedmont/Buckner Terrace for new locations. Paul Quinn is no less than 6.5 miles from any of these areas.
Having lived in an area with a lack of grocery and retail options, I can understand the frustration of that neighborhood. What I see, however, is an opportunity to change the game and build your own playing field instead of waiting for the big boys to invite you to play on theirs.
There is a blueprint to opening such a store. You find a person that's a high-ranking employee in a grocery chain. He/she runs the store and finds capable employees. That's how businesses get started, without waiting for the 'powers that be' to build a store.
Surely, I am simplifying it. But it is possible. A good example is La Michoacana, which is a grocery chain that focuses on Hispanics. Their stores are not huge, most are 5-12,000 SF. But they are growing and growing. The chain started with one 1,800 SF store.
To further the illustrate the pent-up need for a grocery store, Rev. Gerald Britt recently wrote in a blog piece titled So What is Economic Development:
The myth about low income and working class neighborhoods is that the people who live there have little or no disposable income. Purportedly objective 'data' is used to prove, for instance, that such communities cannot support grocery stores or retail. This has always been a curious argument to me. As I mentioned in a previous post, Paul Quinn College in South Oak Cliff (southern Dallas) is located in an area where there are nearly 4,500 single-family homes, as well as multi-family housing. There is a new elementary school being built nearly two miles south of PQ and within 5 or six blocks of the new school being built is a subdivision being built. The area has a mixed-income population. Nearly every house has a car in its driveway or garage. All of the people in those homes eat. They all wear clothes. They all have furniture. Yet the closest grocery store is six miles away. Most of the residents in the area drive as far away as Lancaster or DeSoto to buy groceries, or as far away as Cedar Hill, TX to buy clothes, electronics, etc.