Grocery store operator Jim Scanlon is closing his visionary store Jim’s Local Market that was created to address the scarcity of supermarkets in a low-income community in Newport News. The store is closing Wednesday. “It’s just that the sales are not there, and the profitability is not there. It’s not working out,” Scanlon said Monday.As many of you know Jim’s Local Market was one of the potential operators being considered for the new East End Grocery store. Jim’s aspirations and goals for the store that he opened in Newport News, VA seemed to be a good fit for what is being attempted in the East End.
Given the association between Jim, his closing store, and the East End Grocery Church Hill and East End folks have expressed concern about the viability of the project. CHPN spoke with Norm Gold, the East End Grocery store’s future operator, and he thinks there are several key factors that will help ensure the success of the new store. This is what Norm Gold had to say:
I feel very sad for Jim. I’ve never met a nicer, more dedicated man. His grocery skills are unsurpassed. I believe the support he got at first wasn’t sustained which left him on his own. I don’t see it having any negative implications on our store. As with any business, you learn from others who have tried similar ventures. Unfortunately, with this one, I gained knowledge at the detriment of Jim’s store. I had a wonderful conversation with Jim before I took on this role and he gave me some great advice, and pointed out what he struggled with most. It has helped us direct and focus our efforts, particularly in the community engagement and staff training. Our Community Advisory Committee, headed by Mike Maruca, is and will continue to be, a key component in our success, Our store will be a proud neighborhood market that fits in with all incomes and diversities. The outreach we are doing in the community has already given us great insight in what would entice shoppers throughout the East End. We are so fortunate to have the amazing support of Steve and Kathie Markel. We have dedicated partners in this project like VCU, J Sargeant Reynolds College, and the American Heart Association as well as many other organizations in the area like the Peter Paul Development Center, the Richmond Food Justice Alliance, and the Community Action Network. A partnership with Caritas will provide life skills training for our staff to ensure their success. We also have very strong support from Councilwoman Newbille and the Mayor’s office. With the support and partners dedicated to this project, I am truly confident that our store will be successful and a model for other stores in similar locations. Thank you, Norm