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VOICES

Issue: Why Do Groceries Sometimes Cost More in the Inner City?

October 04, 1992| Compiled by Iris Yokoi, Times community correspondent

* David Stewart

Marketing professor, USC School of Business

There are actually several reasons. One revolves around the general lack of competition. Also, it really is more expensive to do business in those areas. Often the costs of keeping the store secure--protecting and maintaining the store--are higher. The stores are subject to more vandalism, and that adds to the cost of doing business. And usually, the stores are smaller in square footage, so you can't sell as much volume as the huge mega-stores in suburban areas. I think it's a good sign that some of the grocery chains are going to rebuild in South-Central Los Angeles.

* Paul Jenkins

Crenshaw resident

Mostly blacks, low-income people, live in this area. (Stores) know they can push most anything off on us that other people won't tolerate in other areas. It's bad, but that's the way it is. I don't shop in this area. I go to the white areas. I only (shop in Crenshaw) to pick up small items on sale or something.

* Laura Shin

Owner of F & J Market

If I were to charge less, I could not keep this store. I don't sell as much as a big store, but I have a lot of expenses--land, employees, insurance--just like a big store. I got a loan from the bank when I bought this store and the payments are high too. And during the riots, (looters) broke all the windows and took everything. It was empty. I have an alarm and I'd like to have more security, but that's very expensive too. Sometimes (customers) complain (about the prices) but I say, "This is a small liquor store," and they accept it. Everybody understands.

* Trinita Ross

Crenshaw resident

They really are expensive. When I went to Santa Barbara, I noticed we're paying almost one-third more (for groceries). Knowing our incomes, you'd think they'd make the prices meet our budgets. But it's because they want to keep the rich rich, and the poor poor. If they can keep the people in poverty down, they don't have a problem with us coming together as a unit (and rebelling).

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