Most people in North Texas take neighborhood grocery stories for granted. But, that’s not the case in one Southeast Dallas neighborhood, which was a food desert with stores more than five miles away, when the Save U More opened in 2016.
That store near the corner of Simpson Stuart Road and Bonnie View Road closed on New Year’s Day.
People who shopped there on the final day found very little left to buy.
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“You can see all the way from the front of the store to the back of the store and all the way through the shelves,” said customer Pearl Smith.
In the months leading up the Friday’s closure, some neighbors said poor stock led to the store’s decline.
City Councilman Tennell Atkins who represents the area fought for years to find a developer willing to open a store in the food desert.
“We've got to make sure this community do have fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and fresh meat,” he said.
There was a good supply in 2019 when Rodney Wiggins who managed the store at the time said it was a challenging location.
“A lot of people are scared to come to this area. This area needs to be brought up,” Wiggins said.
There have been crime problems at that corner in the past.
But there are also hungry people in apartments and single-family homes around the neighborhood. Paul Quinn College is right down the street.
The City of Dallas provided a $2.9 million grant to the developer to renovate what was a decaying old shopping center and open the grocery store. In return, the developer was to keep a store available to the neighborhood for 10 years.
“He has been for five years. He said yesterday he is committed to being here for 10 years. He needs time to restructure, to come up with another kind of concept to reopen,” Atkins said.
In August, a group of critics held a demonstration outside the store, opposing any further city spending.
“Where did all of the money go and when did the city get into the business of bailing out grocery stores and failed businesses,” critic Eric Williams said that day.
On Friday, Atkins would not rule out additional city spending.
“I think that all options is on the table,” Atkins said. “The city always invests into the community. I don’t think the city is going to stop investing in the community.”
Atkins said the neighborhood needs a grocery store and he will support getting it open again.
“That would be awesome. That would really be awesome,” said customer Pearl Smith.
She left the store for a longer drive Friday that she said she did not enjoy to find food somewhere else.
Some neighbors in surrounding apartments say they will rely on convenience stores and a dollar store that are walking distance from the corner. Those stores supply milk and packaged items but not fresh food and full-service groceries.