Intersection

A Trader Joe’s move further highlights Downtown’s grocery dilemma

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Living Downtown is great. I wouldn’t trade it. The neighborhoods are ever-changing, camaraderie is strong and we all feel a palpable sense of belonging to something great. I imagine we’d feel it even more strongly if there were more decent produce and healthy food markets down here.

Where do you shop for produce? Sprouts, maybe? The closest one to my home near Maryland Parkway and Charleston Boulevard is nearly six miles away. Whole Foods? Nine miles away. And Trader Joe’s—good ol’ non-bougie TJ’s—recently announced its plans to close its Decatur Boulevard store (about four miles away) and move it to a new location at Ann Road and U.S. 95, making my next-closest location Buffalo Drive and Summerlin Parkway—nine miles.

I do have options. There’s a Smith’s and an Albertsons, each about a mile away. But the Smith’s, for example, has an underwhelming produce selection and a natural foods aisle that’s half the size of that of a Smith’s I recently visited in Green Valley. (Meanwhile, a sizable amount of retail space is devoted to liter bottles of soda and plastic toy novelties, neither of which I consume.) There’s the Market on Fremont, which is nice but small, and a few Mexican supermarkets (most notably Cardenas and Mariana’s), which I love but aren’t well-stocked in low-sodium prepared foods, which are a necessity for my health and convenience.

So I’m wondering why traditionally urban grocery chains—like Trader Joe’s—are going out of their way to avoid the middle of our city. Downtown isn’t a ghost town; high-density housing is proliferating here. And we Downtowners eat well enough to support healthy restaurants like VegeNation, Bronze Café and Rainbow’s End. When will Vegas’ city core get the natural and organic markets that its suburbs can afford to take for granted?

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