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Push for more South L.A. grocery stores

April 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
When Damien Miller sets out to get groceries, it is a long walk. Like many in South L.A., he has no car and only mom-and-pop stores nearby. "There are no really name-brand markets that I go to personally," said Miller. "Sometimes I have to travel to go to go to the stores -- like real far," said Cedric Johnson. The /*California Grocers Association*/ says that could change soon. The demand in South L.A. is too big to ignore. "The consumer is the one that keeps us growing," said Phil Lawrence, /*Superior Grocers*/. Superior Grocers is a small chain of large-scale markets. The company sees opportunity at an area south of Washington Blvd. on Central Ave. "Our market study shows there are 11 competitors in a three-mile radius," said Lawrence. "That's not very many markets for three square miles, and there's approximately 150,000 residents." Just as the big national chains are struggling, up-and-comers are growing. Flexibility to serve local ethnic markets is a plus. /*Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market*/, a British chain, is making inroads with more compact-sized stores. The comapny opened one in Compton. The major challenge now is finding space to build. South L.A. is mostly homes. Few homeowners want to sell. "You need to negotiate with 10 or 12 different owners," said Matthew Dodson, Calif. Grocers Association. "You need to work with zoning to make sure it's all zoned properly before you can build on that site." The /*Community Health Council*/ is bringing together groups from government, business and the community to seek solutions. Superior Grocers, meantime, is embarking on an experiment. All the fresh products of their giant supermarkets have been scaled down. A grocery store that will fit into a mixed-use complex near Washington and Central will open in August. "It's going to change my life tremendously," said Damien Miller. "I don't have to go too far to get some groceries, probably quality groceries at that." MORE LOCAL HEADLINES FROM LOS ANGELES USEFUL LINKS: SEND TIP || REPORT TYPO || TWEET @abc7 ||  WIDGET