Clifton inches closer to having grocery store again
Clifton has been without a supermarket since January 2011, when KellersIGA closed. Another supermarket operator bought the building on Ludlow Avenue, but wasn't able to open a store there. So for the last year, community advocates have been raising money to start a cooperative market.
A cooperative market is owned by many individuals who typically have a say in how the business is run.
Rama Kasturi of the Clifton Market's capital campaign committee says it's getting close to reaching its goals. “We’re looking forward to having good news for the community very soon here as we wrap up phase one of our entire business enterprise, which is buying the building and putting the grocery back in the grocery store.”
She says the committee has raised more than the asking price to buy the building, but wants to build funds up, so it doesn't have to borrow from banks. “The purchase price for the actual building portion was 800-something-thousand dollars. Our fundraising goal initially was a million dollars. We need to ask to double it.”
The effort to reopen Clifton Market started just over 13 months ago. Kasturi says there could be physical signs of progress very soon. “In the next three to six months, (you will see) a lot of what we had hoped to have happen in the grocery store,” she says. “We have the plans in place. We have our pro forma. It’s been picked over.”
The Clifton Market will be a co-op venture with shares selling for $200 a piece.
“We have a thousand shares sold but we have about 850 individuals who own those shares,” Kasturi says. She says shares have been sold to people who used to live in Clifton and to those who still do.
“The whole business district has suffered as a result of the lack of foot traffic that was generated by the market being there.” Kasturi says her group estimates re-opening the store will bring an extra 10,000 to 15,000 people to the neighborhood each week, something she says neighboring businesses are excited about. “The spillover effect is going to be a good bonus for everyone on Ludlow.”
Kasturi says supporters are looking forward to having a new gathering place for the community. There are plans for a deli bar inside where shoppers can eat. “And it will be community space that will be more than just a place you go to buy your groceries,” she says. “It will be warm and friendly and interactive and help heal you in more ways than just buying your groceries.” Kasturi says there are plans for health officials to make presentations.
“And we are also partnered with Cincinnati State and we hope to be able to offer the people who are studying at the (Midwest) Culinary Institute opportunities to have internships at the store, and also sell some of their bakery goods in our store.”
For those who don’t want to linger, Kasturi says there will be an app for online shopping. “(We will) have online access to the store, through your smart phone, so you get updates when you’re within a one mile radius, or a half mile radius of the market, so you can be in your office and look into placing a grocery store order.” She says the store will also have interactive digital display screens to aid shoppers.
She says construction could begin later this summer.