Updated 07/11/2012 04:09 PM
Syracuse’s supermarket struggles
The City of Syracuse, reeling from the shutdown of one popular grocery store, says it's ready to revive another. YNN's Bill Carey says Syracuse finds itself fighting the loss of places to buy a family's food.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Another grocery store closes its doors. A familiar sight in cities like Syracuse. Creating what some have called a food desert, forcing those in the most need to face the greatest challenges in the simple task of buying groceries.
“It's really hard just to provide food for your family. Getting good produce requires a long bus trip. Finding somebody to watch your kids or taking your kids along with you on a CENTRO bus. Hauling the stuff on a CENTRO bus. Going back. Sometimes long walks between the CENTRO stop and your home,” said Phil Prehn of Syracuse United Neighbors.
The people in this north side Syracuse neighborhood are just beginning to realize the challenges that lie ahead.
In one south side area, people have been facing those challenges for the past three years. That's how long it has been since P & C Markets, facing bankruptcy, began to close stores. The Valley Plaza store was one of the first to be closed.
Getting other stores interested in moving in has been tough.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said, “Well, I think what you've seen is, we've had a very down market. And, as you have a down market, people have contracted businesses not expand them.”
And for an industry that faces relatively low profit margins, inner city areas often pose challenges of a different kind.
“You cannot continue to go into these people's business and just shoplift and think that we're going to be able to have viable businesses stay in this community. So the community has a part to play in this also,” said Syracuse Common Councilor Helen Hudson.
After long talks and the offer of some incentives, Tops Markets has now agreed to move into the Valley Plaza store. The company's president says there is still a strong demand for such an operation.
“There's many people who live in this neighborhood who don't have a good option for a full service grocery store. We think that represents opportunity for us. Opportunity for a good business,” Tops Markets President Frank Curci said.
City leaders hope for a similar result on the north side, but hope it takes much less time.
Tops Markets says it will begin its renovation of the Valley Plaza store soon. The store should be open for business sometime in November.
Wegmans says it now has offers in hand for its store on Pond Street and expects to announce action by the end of the week. It will not say if any of the offers are from other supermarket chains.