Richmond Grocery Wars Update: Will "Food Deserts" Remain Just That?

Posted on in Commercial Real Estate, RVA Grocery and Delivery Wars

Jim Scanlon announced this week that Jim's Market, a grocery store located in a low-income neighborhood of Newport News, will close today. The store, described as "visionary" for its efforts to provide healthy food choices in areas described as "food deserts" due to a lack of grocery options, opened in May of 2016.

Scanlon, a former Ukrop's executive, cited lack of sales and the resulting lack of profitability as the reasons behind the closing. Newport News officials are reportedly hustling to find a replacement operator for the location.

A Jim's Market was originally proposed for one of Richmond's food deserts on Nine Mile Road at N. 24th and N. 25th Streets in an area that will see Bon Secours increase its health care presence. The grocery store concept for the area is backed by Steve Markel, but Scanlon later declined to be the operator. Plans have progressed nonetheless, and Norm Gold, the former COO of FeedMore, has been hired to hold the reins of the project.

Gold has formed a community advisory committee to guide the store's planning. The latest reports indicate that the grocery store could break ground by this summer with an opening later in 2018.

Perhaps getting the community on board first is what is needed for a grocery store in a historically under-served area to be successful. As Scanlon noted, without sales, there is no profit.

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