HYPERLOCAL NEWS HUB BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS DEPARTMENT OF JOURNALISM
Is there a market for a new grocery store in Cooper-Young?
By Miriam Hegner and Idil Issak/MicroMemphis Reporters
March 27, 2012
Cooper Young is growing and Fresh Market wants to be apart of that growth. The chain grocer approached the Cooper Young Business Association for possible space for a permanent move to the neighborhood.
Fresh Market is a chain of groceries found only in the Northeast and Southeast of the country, that markets itself as "specialty neighborhood grocer".
The question is: Does the neighborhood need a new grocer?
Kristan Huntley, the Community Director at the Cooper-Young Community Association says people often approach her regarding the topic. “I think Cooper-Young needs some sort of grocery store. I hear that a lot from residents.” As she perceives it, people would like an alternative to shopping at the single grocery store in the area, Kroger. “People often tell me they would like a small market to just pop in to.”
Cooper-Young resident Shannon Williams would like to have a grocery store around besides Kroger. “I actually frequent the Fresh Market in East Memphis, so one close to here would be nice.”
However, past attempts to establish one have seemed to fail and with local farmers markets that operate every Saturday in the parking lots of the First Congo Church, Tsunami restaurant, and the Farmers market every spring through summer in the old train station Downtown, some feel that there is not a need for an outside chain like Fresh Market in Cooper-Young.
Kasie, a graduate from the University of Memphis, who lives in Cooper-Young, says she does not like the idea of a corporate grocery store in the neighborhood. “I like the farmers’ markets here. I prefer local products, which are affordable and also support local business.”
However, vendors at the farmers' markets do not seem to feel threatened by a possible grocery chain store.
The Boulangerie Olivier for example has a stall at the farmer’s market at First Congo’s, selling different sorts of bread. Holly, who works there, says a grocery store in the neighborhood wouldn’t bother her. "I have no objections to a new business coming to Cooper-Young. People who are loyal would still come to the farmer’s market. They call it Fresh Market, but with us, it will always be fresher. We bake our bread the same morning we sell it.”
Jamie Williamson is of the same opinion. He’s with Williamson’s Farm and sells fruit and vegetables at the farmer’s market at First Congo's. “Produce in a store will have to be shipped in, so it will never be as fresh as local products. Plus, fruit that is sold in stores is picked green and then stored. It will never have the same taste as fruit picked ripe. I guess a store would work, because people could shop there during the week as opposed to only on Saturdays. But I’m not afraid to lose costumers, they will still come here. They will taste the difference.”
Costumers at the farmers' markets seem equally at ease with the idea of a grocery chain in Cooper-Young. Kim Harwood and Sherry Hanson both live in Midtown and like to come to Cooper-Young’s farmer’s markets on Saturdays. “A grocery store would be great around here”, says Kim Harwood. “Although I’d prefer a Trader Joe’s. They are more reasonably priced."
They would support both a grocery store and the farmer’s markets. “People would still buy at the market to support local business. Plus, it’s fresher”, says Sherry Hanson. “And cheaper,” says Liza Neergard, who likes to shop in Cooper-Young.
Sarah Needham used to live in Cooper-Young and still works there. She sees a need for a grocery store in Midtown. “I would shop there. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be in Cooper-Young.”
Cooper-Young Business Association Director Tamara Cook is positive there is a clientel for a Fresh Market in the neighborhood. “We need that in Cooper-Young.” She has pointed out available places to the representatives of Fresh Market. They would require an area of about 30,000 square feet and lots of parking space, as Tamara Cook explains.
But there is no set time frame yet. “They’re just looking for possibilities.”
Idil Issak/ MicroMemphis reporter
Idil Issak covers Development/ Residential/ Business for Micromemphis.
You can send her story ideas here.
Floow her on Twitter ( @idilissak ).
Miriam Hegner/ MicroMemphis reporter
Miriam Hegner covers Development/ Residential/ Businiess for Micromemphis.
You can send her story ideas here.
Follow her on twitter ( @MiriamHegner ).