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3 groceries open Thurs. reverse Youngstown’s ‘food desert’

Published: Wed, February 8, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.


Many city residents and local leaders are excited about the opening of three Bottom Dollar Food stores in Youngstown, most notably for the chain’s produce sections.

By Karl Henkel



For years, Youngstown has been a “food desert,” a term given to struggling urban areas with few full-service grocers.

But come Thursday, the city will grow its number of chain grocery stores by three.

Bottom Dollar Food will open three 18,000-foot, brightly lit and painted stores within the city at 2649 Glenwood Ave., near the Idora neighborhood; 890 E. Midlothian Blvd.; and 3377 Mahoning Ave. in the Mahoning Plaza.

“It’s absolutely a huge victory for the city of Youngstown to be able to attract a national grocery-store chain,” said Presley L. Gillespie, executive director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.

The discount-grocery store chain, run by Food Lion and a subsidiary of Belgium-based Delhaize Group, is venturing into Ohio for the first time. Youngstown is its test location.

“We thought it would be an area where the customers had a need,” said Barb Bell, district manager.

The need has been well documented.

A 2010 federal study listed the Youngstown metro area as the nation’s third-worst for the number of people suffering food hardships because the city also has a high poverty rate.

YNDC shows most of the city’s 66,982 residents live more than a half-mile from a grocery; 18 percent don’t have access to a vehicle.

Youngstown has five full-service chain grocers in the city: two Sparkle Markets, one in Cornersburg and one on Mahoning Avenue, and Save-A-Lots on South Avenue, McCartney Road and Gypsy Lane.

“It’s essential, especially if they have good produce and good meat,” said Suzanne Mikos of McDonald, who along with her husband Bruno on Tuesday signed up for Bottom Dollar membership cards, which allow customers to take advantage of special weekly discounts.

Larry Scheid, manager of the Bottom Dollar on Mahoning, said the company has both produce and meats covered.

Each location has a large, apartment-sized walk-in refrigerator set to 45-degree temperatures for all produce.

There also is a full aisle of frozen meats and deli items.

The stores have 6,500 commonly used items ranging from produce to dog food to cleaning supplies and alcohol, about two-thirds of which are national brands.

Bottom Dollar, which employs about 30 at each location, also has its own store brands.

The idea of having a grocery store within walking distance excites Councilman Paul Drennen, D-5th.

“That area hasn’t had anything over there in a long time,” he said, referring to the Glenwood location. “There’s nothing within any kind of walking distance.”

But not all residents are happy that a new nonunion grocer has come to town.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which in 2009 set up pickets at Henry Nemenz’s nonunion stores in Sharon, Pa., Hubbard, Poland and Struthers, has already stationed itself outside the Bottom Dollar locations.


1whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

The wife says not much for deals, just as high if not higher then Sparkle.

But with alot of security and armed guards present at least inner city can buy some steak , chips , and soda with their food card.

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2UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

How long before the Hoodrats shoplift or rob these stores into closing? I wonder how long till one of those United Food and Commercial Workers Union picketers are shot dead? Remember it's Youngstown - Hoodrat City were talking about here.

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3city_resident(528 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Overall, this _is_ good news for the city. But I'll miss the Mahoning Ave. Sparkle, that will be closing in a week or so.

I moved to my current neighborhood because of easy access to the park and walkability to a grocery store with fresh produce and meat.

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4Photoman(1249 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure on this but it seems to me that the people who were picketing Nemenz stores were not union employees at all but merely "hired guns". They have hurt each and every community where they have been. Perhaps a Vindicator "reporter" could look into the situation and tell us who these people really are and, maybe even, whether or not they're paid union wages. You can bet that no union officers are walking those lines--that's beneath them even in a time of decreasing membership.

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5Superstar7(122 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

“It’s absolutely a huge victory for the city of Youngstown... said Presley L. Gillespie..."
It's a huge victory for the criminals that occupy those neighborhoods, no longer having to travel to Boardman, Poland & Liberty to shoplift.
Bottom Dollar either has deep pockets to absorb shoplifting by the neighborhood occupiers or they will flee, as did the previous groceries, chased away by the inner city generations of occupiers that shoplift their way through life.
Employees...better be armed. If you continue to steal from employers, don't expect your employer to stay open.
Ask a policeman/policewoman about the number of shoplifting calls they respond to daily, often hourly.

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6CantStandYa(222 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I'll travel from Boardman to shop in one of these stores over the weekend. I won't take my wife or kids, but 'll go check it out.

Mainly because I can cross a Union picket line and laugh at them.

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7fcb(463 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Two years they will be closed! If they last that long.The garbage will not be behind these stores they will be shopping,(I mean shoplifting) inside these stores. Better put guards at the meat counter and around the wine and beer counters.Read police plotters next week and you will see what I mean. One good thing,there will be no robberies because all the shopping will be done with government cards and food stamps!

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8lacatheline(14 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

"can't stand ya", back at ya!! your name says it all. what a poor example of any opinion!! why are so many people against unions. where would our fathers be if there were no unions to protect them in the mills?? granted they don't have the clout they had, but they are still needed in many areas of employment., try working in a mill or office that has a tyrant for a manager. i am glad to see a new employer in the area, and it is up to the workers to decide if they want or need union representation without the employer threatening termination for trying to unite. and if you don't know how often that happens get your head out of the sand!!
good luck tto the new stores and their employees, i wil be there to shop,

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9pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

OMG you nay-sayers are so silly.

Why not be happy that people in these neighborhoods FINALLY have access to a closer grocery store. FYI, I have been in the one on E. Midlothian, spoken with the manager, was taken on a tour of the store, and I LOVE IT! GASP! I'm also white, poor but not poverty-stricken, and president of the neighborhood group right behind this store.

You people who say ugh I will continue to shop in Boardman, or Struthers, or whereever you take your stuck up nose to shop, you go right ahead. I'm betting my .25 cent FRESH apple will taste just as good as your .50 cent apple.

The south side is on its way back UP, we are working hard, very hard, to make it so. THEREFOR, instead of putting it down, or taking bets on how long the stores will last, or when the first robbery will occur or the first murder in the parking lot.... here's a novel idea... why not actually support the efforts of this company, along with the efforts of the community, in welcoming Bottom Dollar Foods to our city. And if you can't be happy for us, you know where you can go.

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10rushblvd(15 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I too am a proud Southsider--I am very excited about Bottom Dollar coming to Youngstown. Very much look forward to shopping there. It is so easy to type negative comments--Nobody can see who you are..Why not instead type something positive--umm "Bottom Dollar invests in Youngstown"--Bottom Dollar HIRES locals----Bottom Dollars spends tax money in Youngstown..Bottom Dollar gives back to the community--jeez see that's not hard...or how about this--WELCOME BOTTOM DOLLAR :)

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11Iwannamove(61 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

you wanna know who those union people are? They are employees of Sparkle market that get paid $8 an hour to go picket stores that are non union. Its a load of crap because these so called union stores are nothing but BS. Sparkle will not give employees the hours, treats them like slaves, no health insurance or vacation pay til you are there a year if you are full time...no full offered and have one of there crooked people dib in your drawer and get the union involved....they don't help. Saw it done with many a cashiers there before I quit. They are underhanded. Don't know why the don't leave non union stores alone. Take Nemenz IGA they actually pay more an hour, give you benefits, give you something for christmas and treat there employees alot better than Sparkles. So there go you about unions it will stupid unions like these that will shut stores down (ex save a lot in poland) than robbers

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12pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

@rushblvd - AMEN to that!

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13MLC75(661 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm glad the people on the southside,now have a nice decent place to shop.They deserve to have a place to buy fresh food and at a decent price.

Whats wrong with all of you people who are so negative,you haven't invested a penny in the store,so it isn't your problem.Get a life.

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14Gam1225(7 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

AHHH the Children of Shyt Don't Stink are at it again. Your message is the same on every topic ENTITLEMENT. Kuddos to pgurney and the others who have worked hard to restore pride to a community that was stripped by the COSDS PARENTS!!! I wish the community nothing but the best.

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15mickeyg(6 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

i really cant believe you people and your neg attitude. the people in poland and boardman might be glad but i guarantee you the store chain hates this. all that so called hood money will stay right here.

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16redvert(2240 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Can't wait for Walmart to open their new grocery on South Avenue. Hope they know that they will have to contend with Dog Boy or what ever that hippo's name is. Bet they are just terrified!!! At least it will mean long term employment for the union pickets (at union scale of course). It will be union scale...right.....right..?.....Hellooo...

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17pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

THANK YOU Gam, and the rest of you.

To carlstaatz... the ghetto?? Since when is the Mahoning Plaza the "ghetto"? Or the corner of Zedaker and Midlothian the "ghetto? Oh no wait, I guess you're talking about the Glenwood Avenue area. Right?

I also guess you haven't heard that the residents of the south side - ALL areas of the south side - have been busting their collective asses to bring the south side up and out of what YOU perceive to be the "ghetto".

You really should stop looking down your nose at people. One day, you just might find yourself in the "ghetto".

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18gwin330(3 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Very excited a national company has picked Youngstown for their test. JOBS....... really who cares if it is not union. They have JOBS to offer. I will be more than happy to thank the picketers for pointing out the new store that I am going to shop at. They also have convenience to offer to many neighbors who do not drive.

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19pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

carlstaatz, since you don't even know me, it would seen that you are the one with an honesty issue. =)

My neighborhood is within the "ghetto" on your map, and happens to be one of the nicest neighborhoods on the southside, nice homes, nice yards, nice everything.

Apparently you haven't been in the nicer areas, since you choose only to talk about, and photograph, the rundown buildings that are already slated for demolition. Shame. We're working our asses off to make it a better place, and you seem to work just as hard to thwart our efforts. eh no more wasting my time on you.

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20pgurney(296 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

lanacek, you are exactly right.

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21pjst81(7 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

hey union forever, your comment was very offensive. i have a very close relative who pickets there, and your comment was very upsetting to me. and for the rest of you, get your facts straight about the picket lines prior to posting! i support the unions, the picket lines are not to shut down business but to entice the store to become a union, duh! sorrry to all you rich repubs, but unions are a good thing, try working for a business who does not have one, i do and it is terrible what these employers get away with just to line thier own pockets! I think bringing a business is good, if you dont shop in that area, then dont worry about it, it really is not your concern then! but having a union creates jobs too, so im for both, those picket lines create jobs too, so why dont you quit picking on the picketers, and go pick on the people that abuse the systems!

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22mrblue(1175 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

These new stores will slowly start raising their prices or the other so-called discount stores will have to lower their prices. Time will tell.

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23gingerspice(142 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

A"rat is a rat" whether they are union or non-union. Humans are humans. We all have our faults whether we belong to a union or not. I have worked for businesses with unions and without. There are not so nice people in both organizations. Let's be grateful for the stores and try to support them and those they employ.

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24One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Hey everyone - not worth wasting any bandwidth responding to carlstatz.

He's just one of those sad-ass people who will spin things by running around with a camera taking pictures of the worst examples of an area, all the while spouting about how he elevated himself to a better area. He's a legend in his own mind.

Fact is that while he publishes all his pictures and his ghetto map on picassa, he's too big a coward to tell anyone else where he lives so anyone can go take pics of the crap around his place. Dont get dragged down to his level. Let him continue to make himself feel better about what a genius he is while we all carry on doing worthwhile, positive things that make life around us better.

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25Ypublius(21 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Glad to see ytown has some new investment

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26melissa561(9 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I moved from NE Ohio to NC and the Bottom Dollars down here all closed so all we have near by is Foodlion which owns Bottom Dollar. I may save but you get nothing for your savings Like Giant Eagle offers discounts on gas

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