The biggest news of the day is that H-E-B, the beloved Texas grocery chain, has purchased six Sun Fresh Market stores, The Dallas Morning News reports. It's not clear yet whether the independent grocery chain will open full-blown H-E-Bs or stick to Central Markets, the expensive gourmet offshoot that's already peppered around the city, but the stores will open in neighborhoods like Lake Highlands, Uptown, Lakewood and Northwest Dallas — neighborhoods that already have plenty of grocery options.
This is, of course, great news. H-E-B is a beloved grocery store for a reason, as it's one of the increasingly few grocery stores where the middle class can affordably restock their pantry. After all, shopping at Central Market is great fun, but making regular trips to boutique grocery stores just isn't economically possible for a good portion of North Texans. The unfortunate part of H-E-B's announcement? In choosing the locations for its new stores, H-E-B is overlooking parts of Dallas that severely need more grocery options: Oak Cliff and southern Dallas.
I moved to Oak Cliff six months ago and fell in love with the neighborhood — the parks, the businesses, the walkability, that yuppie "sense of community" that hipsters won't stop harping about. But I soon learned that my new neighborhood had a major downside: a severe lack of grocery stores. The Tom Thumb is small, cramped and lacks the selection of many major grocery chains. Stores like Fiesta and Jerry's cater to the Hispanic community and are, admittedly, very affordable, same for Aldi. But considering the area's population density and continued growth, the lack of grocery stores continues to be a problem for both Oak Cliff and southern Dallas. Even as the City Council announces $3 million in funding “to assist in development and/or location of one or more high quality grocery stores … within or adjacent to a southern Dallas food desert," those living south of the Trinity River find that their neighborhoods just aren't considered as grocery stores expand in North Texas.
As the Observer reported earlier this month, there are six Krogers and 11 Tom Thumbs in the northern sector, according to the food locators on each individual company’s website. Now, six new grocery stores will enter the fray, including two in McKinney and Grapevine.
And once again, those south of the Trinity have to watch as neighborhoods like Uptown continue to get more and more grocery options. It's admittedly a selfish gripe, but I'm tired of driving across town just to stock up on groceries that are both affordable and good quality. My neighborhood is filled with families and young professionals who don't own a car, which makes their grocery options even more dire.
I get it — business is business, and H-E-B can do whatever it damn well pleases as it attempts to attain a greater market share in North Texas. It's not H-E-B's responsibility to solve southern Dallas' very real food desert problem. But what do Oak Cliff and southern Dallas have to do to get more grocery options? Apparently we'd be more likely to get a new grocery store if we already had plenty of options to choose from.