Oak Cliff, pictured here in 2018, where new development is colliding with old. (Photo by Creagh Cross)

CRE Opinion

The Food Desert in Southern Dallas Persists

Store closures in the region exacerbates the problem of providing residents with affordable and convenient grocery options.

Another option for a community grocery store has closed its doors in southern Dallas, and it’s disappointing. Walmart decided to close a store at 3155 W. Wheatland Road in Oak Cliff a couple weeks ago, citing its financial performance. I personally remember the excitement when the store first opened more than 20 years ago.

Terrence Maiden

There are a total of 12 Walmart stores within 10 miles of the Wheatland location, with recent opening of supercenter stores four miles to the east at Glen Oaks Crossings and one five miles to the west in Duncanville. My concern is that Walmart’s Wheatland Road store was well situated in this community and should have been a solid performing store.

Several other stores have closed over the years, including Kroger, Albertsons, Minyard, and Sack ’N Save in the southern Oak Cliff areas. Each store closure forces people to have to travel much further and endure the inconvenience to purchase grocery or other daily need items.

The answer to this dilemma is complex. Many families in these communities have opted to purchase their groceries from more affordable options like Family Dollar and Dollar General. These stores are also more centrally located in their communities and an easier option for travel. Furthermore, corner convenience stores are the only option for some families’ source of food. Although these stores fulfill a need, they’re not the healthiest option and have long-term effects.

This suggests to me that people in these communities are looking for more affordable options that are also conveniently located. Perhaps the best model for grocery stores considering locations in low to moderate income areas is going smaller in scale and more centrally located. This would lower a store’s initial investment capital cost and ongoing operating cost.

Until we see an adjustment in grocery store approach within urban communities, we likely will see more closures of traditional grocery stores and more dollar stores opening.

Terrence Maiden is CEO of Russell Glen Co.

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