Grocery store in food desert snags real estate award | Ezine Daddy

DALLAS (BP) — When Cornerstone Baptist Church began developing a grocery store in a South Dallas food desert, a local college professor grumbled that a store without beer, wine, lottery tickets or cigarettes would not attract customers, Pastor recalled Chris Simmons.

Since it opened last year, business at the Southpoint Community Market has grown 600 percent.

Pastor Chris Simmons of Dallas’ Cornerstone Baptist Church inspects fresh vegetables and fruit for sale at Southpoint Community Market. (Photo / Ken Camp)

The professor’s assessment turned out to be nothing but an insult. The Southpoint Community Market, which offers residents fresh meat, vegetables and other items at deep discounts, took over Dallas Business Journal‘s Award for Best Real Estate Deals of 2021: Neighborhood Impact.

“It’s an effort because we’re in a food desert to get fresh and affordable items into neighborhoods so individuals don’t have to pay a $5-$6 bus ride to get some of their basic groceries,” Simmons said.

“It was a great success. Since we opened, we’ve seen growth of 600 percent. The community is really responsive.”

Dallas Business Journal honored the market on April 21, selecting it over finalists City of Dallas Fire Station #6 and The Pocket Sandwich Theater.

“Located at 2839 S. Ervay St., Southpoint Community Market is a 1,300 square foot store that provides local residents with access to affordable and healthy groceries,” he said Dallas Business Journal wrote when announcing the award. “The first month the store made about $2,500 in sales, and last month the store made about $14,000.”

In addition to Simmons, Donald Wesson, Program Director of Cornerstone Community Development Corporation, The Real Estate Council’s Associate Leadership Council Class of 2020, and TREC Community Investors, including Mike Galindo, Jacob Prince and Matt Ballard, are identified as key players in the real estate transaction.

Funding for the deal consisted of a $78,000 grant from TREC Community Investors and $273,000 in in-kind and pro bono services secured by the Associate Leadership Council class.

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“One thing we were able to do was find a donor who could help us and that way we can bring some of the items that they can’t get on the EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer Card) down to affordable prices” said Simmons.

The developer “can go to the dollar store and buy paper towels and toilet paper, and then we charge half what they pay for it. They all pay something because we want them to have the dignity to pay something, but they don’t pay full price.”

Pastor Chris Simmons of Dallas’ Cornerstone Baptist Church sees the Southpoint Community Market not only as a vehicle for community development, but also as an opportunity for witnessing of the gospel. (Photo / Ken Camp)

The market is one of many ancillary services provided by Cornerstone Baptist Church and Cornerstone Community Development Corporation that serve the community, including a kitchen, medical clinic, laundromat, closet, shower room, and other services.

“Our vision was to offer 7-11 convenience at a Walmart price so individuals could still shop affordably in their neighborhoods,” they said Dallas Business Journal quotes Simmons. “We realized that we live in a poor community, but people have access to funds and will spend if you provide the items they need and want, so that was very encouraging.”

The market is open six days a week including Sundays and employs one full-time and three part-time staff. Wesson and church volunteers also occupy the market. Local business owners can sell their items there.

“We started working with (local entrepreneurs) to develop a partnership where we could engage them and get their products in store, which would create employment opportunities for people in the neighborhood,” Simmons told the magazine.

“It worked out well for us. We want to expand and provide a way in which we can help these entrepreneurs expand their business model.”

For 30 years the Dallas Business Journal has recognized the stakeholders and dealmakers of the most notable Dallas-Fort Worth real estate projects initiated, active or completed in 2021 with its Best Real Estate Awards, according to the magazine promoting the awards. The magazine has recognized more than 500 projects since the award was launched.

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