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Community News: South

USC AREA : Residents Cheer New Supermarket

August 07, 1994|ENRIQUE LAVIN

Sometimes bigger is better.

Last week's opening of a Smart & Final store directly west of the USC campus has been long-awaited in an area where supermarkets are few and liquor stores with higher grocery mark-ups have dominated.

"I'm glad they put this here," said area resident Wil Davis. "We needed this a long time ago."

Said Jeff Birdsong, assistant manager of the 15,000-square-foot store: "Our customer count is growing every day and business is picking up steadily."

Local shoppers cited affordable prices and said that having a supermarket nearby allowed them to spend more in their community instead of other areas.

"I used to go up to the Smart & Final at Pico and Western, and that store isn't as large as this one," said Cecilia Cruz, who lives near Western Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard. "This is much closer to me."

And at least one local business owner praised the store's opening.

"It's ideal to my business," said Leroy Ross, owner of Tasty Q Barbecue on Vermont Avenue. "I used to have to go to several places. Now it's one-stop shop."

The Campus Plaza Smart & Final at 3607 S. Vermont Ave. at 36th Place is one of seven inner-city markets the chain has opened since 1992, part of its $50-million post-riot expansion program to build 12 stores and develop two shopping centers in the Central City.

Although the company says the program will bring 400 jobs to local neighborhoods, no one in the immediate area has been hired at the new store; all the employees are transfers.

Birdsong said the store's managers expect business to increase enough by the first week of September that more employees will be hired. "We have 11 employees, but the normal number for a Smart & Final this size is from 30 to 40," he said.

The market's opening is significant, said Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, because a liquor store had occupied the site before the riots. "It's something that is socially positive and in direct response to what the community asked for," said the 8th District councilman.

The Campus Plaza store is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

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