Some Residents Say A Neighborhood Grocery Store Would Make Madisonville Better
When WVXU talked with some Madisonville residents in May, they were asked what would make their neighborhood better.
Many said a grocery store.
It is not the only city neighborhood without a grocery store within walking distance.
Now market trends across the country suggest perhaps Madisonville's chances for landing such a store are improving.
From the 1930's to the 1960's Madisonville was described as the commercial center for eastern Cincinnati. The book, Madisonville, Images of America, also notes that included 12 food stores.
Now Natalia Jones would be happy with just one grocery store in the neighborhood. She is a lifelong resident.
"As of right now, I think we have about like 9 grocery stores within a two mile like radius of Madisonville," Jones said. "But it's all outside of our neighborhood. We do not have a grocery store here."
Jones said she does not want a big box or major grocery store in Madisonville.
Instead she is looking for something smaller, perhaps locally-owned and even with products grown close to home.
"Where you can get fresh produce, or you know lunch meat or whatever it is that people need," Jones said. "It would just make it more livable. I mean Madisonville, Cincinnati as a whole is very walkable. So it would just make it easier for people you know access to fresh fruits and veggies."
There is one business in the neighborhood that provides fresh-baked bread, and during the growing season there's a farmers market on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Residents in nearby Avondale are also waiting on a neighborhood grocery store.
In 1997, four community churches purchased the Avondale Town Center at Reading and Forest from former UC basketball star Oscar Robertson.
Soon after an Aldi's opened at the location. But it closed in 2007.
K.Z. Smith has been the pastor of Corinthian Baptist for 28 years, which is one of the church's involved.
"They left not because they were not making a profit, they left because normally they make, what they normally have what's called drive-up customers," Smith said. "And when people drive-up to grocery stores they buy several bags of groceries, when people walk-up to grocery stores, they only buy one or two bags because that's all they can carry."
The churches are now working with The Community Builders on a major renovation at the Avondale Town Center.
The $38 million project will include new retail space with a Save-A-Lot Plus store and about 120 apartments.
Smith said a grocery store will be important for residents especially seniors.
"Who don't really have transportation to go into other places, other neighborhoods to get food," Smith said. "And so we'll have our own local grocery store that will be a full service grocery store that will provide healthy vegetables and fruits and meats and all those kind of different things."
The new store in Avondale is expected to open sometime in 2018.
Meanwhile, in Clifton, residents are eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Clifton Market.
The co-op will be located at the former Keller's IGA Ludlow Avenue, which closed in 2011 leaving that neighborhood without a grocery store too.
Supporters have been working for several years to make the market a reality.
A retail food consultant says grocery store owners are increasingly looking to urban areas for growth.
John Hauptman is a senior director a Willard Bishop, an Inmar Analytics Company.
He said many suburban areas are in his words "over-stored." But many urban areas are not.
"Quite frankly it's driven by the fact that all retailers are looking for growth and they've really exhausted most other areas for growth," Hauptman said. "And the hottest area in which to grow right now is in urban areas. So they’re trying to figure that out as quickly as they can."
Hauptman said some retailers across the country are testing a smaller store concept in urban areas.
But that involves a lot of research when deciding what items to stock especially when it comes to fresh products.
"So you need produce that meets the needs of the local marketplace and you're not going to be able to provide 170 to 250 different produce items in the smaller stores, so you have to get the right 50 or 60 items, you have to get it right," Hauptman said. "Similarly if you're going to have prepared foods, you have to make sure that you have prepared foods that meet local tastes, which could be vastly different than prepared foods that are feeding the suburban areas."
Along with traditional grocery store chains experimenting with small stores, Hauptman says non-traditional formats are also starting to look at urban areas.
Those include dollar stores, chain drug stores and limited assortment stores with smaller buildings and a more limited food assortment.
All these possibilities increase the chances Madisonville and other Cincinnati neighborhoods could someday see the stores some say they want to return to their neighborhoods.
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