Archive for Sunday, February 18, 2007

Shopping for a supermarket?

Consultants recommend downtown grocery

February 18, 2007


Kris Horton, owner of K. Horton Speciality Foods, tells how the Public Market House - a new public market of four shops in Portland, Maine - works.


Placemakers, a consultant group hired by the city of Lawrence, recommended a supermarket for the downtown area. But the city and real estate experts question the proposal.

Placemakers, a consultant group hired by the city of Lawrence, recommended a supermarket for the downtown area. But the city and real estate experts question the proposal.

Lawrence resident Altha Lusk picks out some produce at Checker's, one of the closest grocery stores to downtown Lawrence.

Lawrence resident Altha Lusk picks out some produce at Checker's, one of the closest grocery stores to downtown Lawrence.

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Man cannot live on bread alone.

Nor on high-end cheese, deli sandwiches, European specialty foods or $8 restaurant meals.

Through a combination of bakeries, restaurants and specialty shops, downtown Lawrence offers all those food items. What it doesn't offer is a traditional grocery store to serve the growing movement of additional condos and apartments in the downtown area. But the environment may be changing somewhat, as a new Massachusetts Street business that focuses on selling organic grocery items is in the works.

More grocery options for downtown ranked high on the list of improvements that a $250,000 team of consultants hired by the city presented to the community earlier this month. The PlaceMakers consulting group said a downtown grocery store would go a long way toward making the downtown the type of old-style traditional neighborhood that many people have been longing for in the city.

But members of the city's development and grocery industries this week said that figuring out how to add a full-service grocery store in downtown likely will be a tough nut to crack.

"I think the idea of a downtown grocery store is a great one, but is it feasible, would it work? I don't know," said Bill Newsome, a Lawrence developer who has recruited grocery stores in the past. "There's definitely some limitation on size for one in downtown, and there's really no place for a traditional grocery store of a normal footprint to open.

"To be successful, it would have to fill some niches. Whether that is a butcher shop that is extraordinary or some specialty foods or whatever, that is what would have to happen."

New York style

A trio of young entrepreneurs is betting that the winning concept is a vegetarian/organic market. Casey Millstein, her brother Josh Millstein and recent Kansas University graduate Cassy Ainsworth confirmed this week that they're opening an organic market in the former Casbah location at 803 Mass.

"We're looking at something comparable toa New York-style market," Ainsworth said. "Something quick that you can get in and out of and meet your basic needs."

Plans call for the store - as yet unnamed - to have a vegetarian deli. Ainsworth also hopes the fact that the store will be next door to Round Corner Drug Co. and The Cheese Shop will cause downtown residents to view the Eighth and Massachusetts area as a one-stop shop for many of their daily needs.

Casey Millstein said the growing trend of new apartments and condos in downtown played a significant role in the decision to open the store, in addition to hearing complaints from eastern Lawrence residents who wanted a store closer than the Dillons near 19th and Massachusetts streets.

"It is about nine blocks from any grocery store," Millstein said of the proposed store. "All the people who live in downtown, work in downtown and people who live in eastern Lawrence were really our focus. We wanted someplace that they could go without getting in the car."

Millstein - who is the daughter of prominent downtown landlord David Millstein, who renovated Liberty Hall and owns the Casbah building - said the trio hopes to have the store open by this summer.

Thinking big

Those in the development industry will be watching to see how it works out.

"I sure hope there are enough people to make that work out because it would be great for the downtown," said Kelvin Heck, a broker with the commercial real estate firm of Grubb & Ellis/The Winbury Group. "Maybe it will be enough to satisfy the downtown need for a while."

It may not be what everyone is looking for, though. Because it is a vegetarian market, it won't have a meat counter. It also will be a fraction of the size of a traditional 60,000-square-foot grocery store. For now, Ainsworth said the store was going to be limited to the first floor of the Casbah building.

The PlaceMakers consultants were envisioning a larger project. They created a concept plan that would build a 40,000-square-foot building just south of the Pachamama's restaurant at Eighth and New Hampshire streets. It would include a parking garage.

But downtown developers don't seem to be biting on the multimillion-dollar idea. Bo Harris, a local construction executive who developed the Hobbs-Taylor Lofts at Eighth and New Hampshire streets, said he didn't see a traditional grocery store working in downtown anytime soon.

"I would love to have one, but I think the number of rooftops is the big issue," Harris said. "You have to have a certain number of residents in an area, and I don't think we're there yet."

Harris said he's not sure what the magic number of residents is, but he thinks the downtown still has a ways to go. He points to the downtown Kansas City, Mo., area. It has had three major condo and apartment developments spring up in recent years but still does not have a grocery store.

A marketplace

The PlaceMakers consultants also recognized that attracting a traditional grocery store to the downtown might be a chore. That's why they presented a Plan B as well. They said some communities are starting to turn to public markets as an alternative to grocery stores in an area.

The concept is similar to an indoor antique mall, except the booths are food-oriented. The consultants pointed to a sizable public market in Portland, Maine - a city about the same size as Lawrence - as an example of how it could work here. But calls this week to Portland revealed that the Portland Public Market closed about two years ago.

The market, though, was bustling for about eight years. It had about 25 food and wine vendors at its peak, with most businesses selling locally grown or produced products. The market, however, received support from a Portland philanthropic organization that owned the building and helped subsidize some of the operating costs, according to an Associated Press article.

Development leaders here also said they had concerns about whether such a public market could be self-supporting in Lawrence, especially because downtown real estate prices are high and the profit margin on grocery items typically is small.

But Kris Horton, one of the founding booth owners of the Portland market, said cities such as Lawrence should give the public market concept strong consideration. She said the key, though, was to start slowly.

After the Portland Public Market closed, Horton and three other booth owners opened the smaller Public Market House. It features a cheese shop, bakery, wine booth and flower shop in a 2,500-square-foot building. It also offers daily or monthly booth rentals for farmers who want to sell their produce in season, in addition to a commercial kitchen that the businesses use to produce their own packaged products.

"It is like a farmers' market, but it is just more of a commitment because it is open year-round," Horton said.

Horton said the booth owners were able to operate more economically because they share costs such as advertising, insurance and building maintenance. She said the market was growing slowly, but she thinks there will be more of them in other similar cities because it taps into a consumer trend.

"It is just an old-fashioned way of buying where the owner is on the premises most of the time," Horton said. "You have personal contact with the owner. It is very intimate, unlike the large supermarket chain.

"You just get this wonderful eclectic feel that you don't get in a supermarket," Horton said.


Flap Doodle 10 years, 11 months ago

"Henry44 has been allowed by the "STAFF" to do this several times in spite of the post having had more than one "Suggest Removal" message sent." Several times? Henry44 only has two posts on this board according to his profile.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 11 months ago

You do seem to be getting confused more often these days.

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

I would rather cut off my left leg and beat myself to death with it than read another story of a downtown grocery and the $250,000 PlaceMaker study. Seriously, I'd rather have a fatal case of the Bird Flu. Very few people live downtown, the rent is high, margins are thin and parking is horrible. If it is such a good idea two of the three PLC Kommissioners are grocers, they can take The Merc downtown and I would never have to hear how we wasted $250,000 of our taxes ever again.

gabbo 10 years, 11 months ago

Casey, Josh, and Cassy: Congratulations. This is a positive future step for downtown and I applaud the initiative and forsight. Please ignore Sigmund's prior post. The garlic protected his intended victim of the evening and he was obligated to take out "the angry'" on the nice article about your store. Bravo.

moosejeffries 10 years, 11 months ago

I want to know want happen to the a p market on the corner of 11th and mass. and the kroger food store on the corner of 9th and new hamp. they were close in the late 1960 or early 1970????

yankeelady 10 years, 11 months ago

Don't forget 11th and Vermont (?) I think there was a Wild Oats there years ago. Whatever it was is was pricey and trying to fill too narrow a niche. But I think that building is empty, it's last incarnation was a business systems or some such. Use what is there, don't build anything else, there is a ton of vacant retail space in this town as it is.

geekin_topekan 10 years, 11 months ago

There used to be a grocery at 6th and Michigan when I was a lad.Also across the bridge where the harlet Davidson shop is now used to be an IGA store. Independent Grocers Assoc. Not "La iga"as my mexican cohorts call it.

LogicMan 10 years, 11 months ago

Hmmm ... a small to mid-sized grocery might work if it was owned and operated by ... Wal-Mart!

roger_o_thornhill 10 years, 11 months ago

Why such hostilities? I guess I am asking this of the folk up before the roosters.

jonas 10 years, 11 months ago

"More grocery options for downtown ranked high on the list of improvements that a $250,000 team of consultants hired by the city presented to the community earlier this month."

Holy bloated whale Batman!! We can't figure out obvious truths without paying people a quarter-mil to tell them to us!

Here's an idea, put a grocery somewhere in East Lawrence, close to downtown but off the strip. There's a lot of useless land space on 9th street. Are there zoning issues?

. . . wait, this is Lawrence of course there are. . .

JayCat_67 10 years, 11 months ago

Well, since daddy owns the building, that ought to cut out a bit of the overhead...

roger_o_thornhill 10 years, 11 months ago

No sense in picking on just these folks JayCat. Most small business is started with the help of the folks. One way or another. Where'd the money to buy a certain bar that's profits were eventually parlayed into a certain property empire come from? Where'd a certain president get his first start in the business world? And so forth.

cactus 10 years, 11 months ago

What about North Lawrence? I really miss RUSTY'S.. OH But that's NORTH LAWRENCE.. Pray tell cross the tracks.

LawSW 10 years, 11 months ago

Yeah I recall Wild Oats or was it The Merc at the corner of 11th & Vermont that eventually closed/moved. It was off the beaten path/less visible (location, location, location). Even a small store that's part convenience store (newspapers, cigarettes, small incidentals), deli, fruits & vegetables--would be an improvement. My hometown is very similar to Lawrence and the older residents w/o cars complain all the time there is no inexpensive way to get to a place to shop. Zabar's--where are you when we need you?

Bobbi Walls 10 years, 11 months ago

we really need a grocery store in North Lawrence. I hate driving across the bridge, to get a gallon of milk. But just like cactus said.. cross the tracks into north lawrence... yeah right..

Bladerunner 10 years, 11 months ago

"A trio of young entrepreneurs is betting that the winning concept is a vegetarian/organic market."

The only Vegans I know are actually from the planet Vega...and they brought their own protein packs with them so they won't be shopping there.

How about another quarter million to study what blend of oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere downtown should be?

loftie 10 years, 11 months ago

I would have to disagree with the last comment. As someone living downtown myself, I am a part of a suprisingly large community of downtown dwellers. You never notice all of the hidden places above all of the stores to live until you're part of the group yourself. The rent is very agreeable (I can afford to live there on my graduate student's salary), parking suprisingly is rarely a hassle, and it provides a living experience like no other. The only downside to living downtown is not having the basic neighborhood conveniences that many in the suburbs take for granted. Sure I can get takeout thai food at 10pm right across the street, but what about a gallon of milk? I'm very excited about this grocery store, especially for occasions when the weather is bad and driving can be dangerous. Not only will it benefit residents, but also those working downtown who are looking for an alternative to lunch other than the sometimes pricey to-go options.

loftie 10 years, 11 months ago

Oops, by 'last comment' I meant Sigmund's at 3:50am

average 10 years, 11 months ago

I've always wondered how the former Wild Oats location has stayed empty for so long. Downtown yet pretty good for parking (except for Farmer's Market days).

I always thought it would be a great location for someone like Dollar General. Small selection of bread and milk, along with band-aids, paper clips, batteries... things that are hard to find downtown. Maybe it's a little declasse for some to have plebian goods available.

Bladerunner 10 years, 11 months ago

And note the "expert consultants" didnt seem to know the public market had failed. That appears to have been discovered by the LJW.

average 10 years, 11 months ago


I bet the owner would have rather had $5000 a month for the last three years than the zero he's gotten. Keep asking for $10k, and keep getting zero... helluva plan.

I dunno... see lots of people walking three blocks from the back of Target to the end of the Target parking lot.

lunacydetector 10 years, 11 months ago

a downtown grocer will NOT work. there was an A&P downtown years ago and it went out of business. how much could the downtown gain in population since the A&P closed in the 1970's? not a helluva lot. not enough to justify a grocer downtown, today. there was also a market on mass in the 1980's. it closed in months.

perhaps the city can convince 'placemakers' to dump the $250,000 into a grocery startup downtown. they would be putting the money where their mouth is. i bet the grocery would dry up and go away in no time.

a grocery store chain would've done their own studies on the downtown. not enough traffic and not enough population to justify.

please note: grocery stores rely on high volumes in order to turn a profit. they are not like a typical retailer.

downtown doesn't have the ease of access or the traffic required for the volume to open a store that might make a 2% profit (if they are lucky).

dream on, dream on.

topekan7 10 years, 11 months ago

An Aldi, located just south of Pachamama would be an ideal solution.

Bladerunner 10 years, 11 months ago

Downtowners should just ride the (emp)T to Dillon's or HyVee.

armyguy 10 years, 11 months ago

Just what are local producers supposed to sell at this time of year in a concept that is similar to an indoor antique mall, except the booths are food-oriented? Snow ice cream? Feed Corn? Milo? Last time I looked the Farmers market is open throughout the growing season in Kansas. This year there will be 4 market days in 3 different locations in town, Saturday morning, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons which are downtown and another a new afternoon in front of the Merc.

The Farmers Market had tried for a long time to get a covered lot much like KC MO's or OP where the patrons can walk and shop under cover in inclement weather. The City has not been able to accommodate that, even though vendors have been willing to pay more for their spots.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

This store is a grand idea with Casey and Josh having been around growing and cooking food all of their lives. Casey is a good cook for sure and can deliver a mean Tofu dish.

Keeping some basic produce available,some bulk items and other choice basic products will make this venture a success.

The Casbah has some history with a delightful Hummus from sometime ago so I see no reason why a small deli would not work out.

Anyway I see a some of east Lawrence and Old West Lawrence and some North Lawrence using this as a quick stop for some tofu, garlic,onions,rice,carrots,apples,oranges,lemons and/or spuds etc etc.

What the Tanger mall forgot was a grocey store and a hardware store for it's anchors. People need these things.

The downtown market will fly I'm willing to bet cuz it's more about providing a necessary service rather than competeing with grocery giants.

Bladerunner 10 years, 11 months ago

I hope the study recommended a liquor store so our homeless buddies don't have to walk the 4 blocks west for their morning dose of Kentucky Deluxe.

average 10 years, 11 months ago

Dambudzo ---

Is there some grocery in Lawrence that I wouldn't have to walk through snow to get to my car?

marysfunkygroove 10 years, 11 months ago

there is a store downtown at 17th and mass called ghetto dillons.

budwhysir 10 years, 11 months ago

So, if we want to be politicaly correct, where do we put the drive thru for the mcdonalds and the other fast food restraunts downtown? It is a fact that not everyone that goes downtown is looking for a place to buy food to take home and eat. And also, how will we shop downtown if we have no place on mass to fill our gas tank. Maybe we should study the feasability of putting a grocery store, a few more banks, some gas stations, and even some convienince stores along this street. We could mix them right in with all the bars that are having trouble and we could mix all the problems of Lawrence right in a 5 block area

justsomewench 10 years, 11 months ago

i'll pitch in $10 of private funds to get bladerunner to consult for downtown. the only study that will be privately funded and yield logical findings.

next step, city commish, br. i'll toss another $10 in there.

case 10 years, 11 months ago

Think co-op. Local milk, eggs, bread, produce, bulk food and good prices. I think it sounds rather nice. Optimism people, common! Maybe instead of making doubtful comments, you should make suggestions as to what you think would help make this thing work. Ears are open, this is for the community and I think that if the support is there and people are excited about seeing something like this go down, it will indeed go up! Where's the faith? Let's do this! WHOO! YEAH! I'm excited. Surprise, surprise, ay?

50YearResident 10 years, 11 months ago


The Merc was downtown (well almost) at 9th & Miss. It moved to it's present location to stay in business.

Scott Tichenor 10 years, 11 months ago

If I lived across the street from the Dillons on Mass. I wouldn't walk there to buy their sad little wilted putrid dead vegetables or their half rotting fruit. Or their date suspected meats. If you go into that joint and want to be safe you'd better be buying something in a can or a box that's filled with preservatives. I hope these folks survive, but it sounds risky.

Bladerunner 10 years, 11 months ago

I admire Case's enthusiasm and don't wish ill on anyone trying to improve the downtown Lawrence experience.

(anyone that hasn't commissoned a quarter of a million dollar study that is )


50YearResident 10 years, 11 months ago

THE REAL REASON a store downtown won't work.


Businesses fail if they can't get enough traffic. The grocery on 11th & Mass had thier own parking lot. But what happened, all the movie goers, the sidewalk shoppers, filled it up. They had to post a sign "Grocery shoppers only" violaters will be towed". It couldn't keep them out and therefore the store failed to be profitable and closed.

This will be the fate of any new attempt.

And, thats not to mention all the shoplifting generated by the "Homeless People" that we all love and support.

shirinisb 10 years, 11 months ago

Growing up in North Lawrence we had Rogers. It was nice. I don't think they made a whole lot of money though because the second Roger died there ceased to be a grocery store there any longer.

Nikki May 10 years, 11 months ago

Really, ghetto dillons is close to down town. Even if you use general terms and say dillons is on 19th and mass, you would have about 10 blocks from 9th and Mass. I live in the prairie park area, so if I want to go to checkers, I have to drive 5 blocks to 23rd and then from Haskell to Louisiana. I'm not sure how many blocks that is oh, maybe 15 or more; but I wouldn't walk it. Or the "downtown" dillons is about that far as well. Forget about people in North Lawrence, they are MILES from a close store. Go ahead and waste the money to have a store downtown, it's their loss. Not mine. But, the merc and the wild oats were BOTH convenient to downtown at one point. But, I'm glad to see a dad that has such faith in his kids.

Budwhysir, have you been to New York or Boston or anything like that? They have areas like our downtown, and smack in the middle is a 7-11 or a mc donalds. However, since most people walk or use public transport, there is no drive thru or gas pumps.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

A little off subject, but here goes.

As I was driving west past the first 70 exit to Lawrence last night, I couldn't help but think what an awful first impression that huge, empty sign over the moribund mall gives a person. That picture is worth a thousand words.

50YearResident 10 years, 11 months ago

How many potholes could have been filled with $1/4 Million Dollars instead of a Grocery store downtown and a Library in the flood plain?

George_Braziller 10 years, 11 months ago

When Jayhawk Food Mart at 9th and Indiana first opened it was in essence a small grocery store. A small produce section, small dairy section, a deli meat case, lots of basics. It was great! Something like that in the downtown area would have no problem succeding. Downtown doesn't mean just the area between New Hampsire and Vermont. There are lots of people in East Lawrence, Old West and North Lawrence who would love to not have to drive three to seven miles round trip just to buy an onion, a quart of milk, or a box of laundry detergent.

KsTwister 10 years, 11 months ago

There USED to be a grocery downtown a sizable A&P but the city said it was an eyesore next to the GRANADA and was happy to see it go. I think this is just another wish for downtown parking (I can see the parking tickets getting written now).

case 10 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the support and enthusiasm Marion.

classclown 10 years, 11 months ago

Posted by case (anonymous) on February 18, 2007 at 9:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Think co-op. Local milk, eggs, bread, produce, bulk food and good prices. I think it sounds rather nice. Optimism people, common! Maybe instead of making doubtful comments, you should make suggestions as to what you think would help make this thing work. Ears are open, this is for the community and I think that if the support is there and people are excited about seeing something like this go down, it will indeed go up! Where's the faith? Let's do this! WHOO! YEAH! I'm excited. Surprise, surprise, ay?


If it's for the community then why does it have to fill a narrow niche? Why must it be completely organic and sell non real food items such as tofu? Why can't it be a normal store that has something for everyone including those that don't want niche food?

What about the rule Lawrence has about not allowing new businesses that will compete with existing ones i.e. the merc which by the way used to be downtown but moved?

Stephen 10 years, 11 months ago

When is the Journal World going to do a story on how completly turned off people are to the city commish over 250k "Masters of the Obvious" study?

George_Braziller 10 years, 11 months ago

Tofu is real food, so is meat, potato chips, and Velveeta. Ok, so maybe Velveeta isn't real but I eat all of the above. My hometown (population 500) has a grocery store and there way more people than that who live in North, East, and Old West who could and would support a grocery store.

Also, the Merc moved because they needed more space and an opportunity came up that was too good to pass up.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

THe Merc has the best organic produce rack in the area bar none. Between selection and a beautiful presentation no store in the KCMO/JOCO metro area compares. Frankly it has the most beautiful rack in Lawrence. This is an observation after seeing these racks about once a week to include 3 Wild Oats and a Whole Foods in the KCMO/JOCO area. The Merc produce is so much more alive and retains the fresh appearance. Hats off to the produce manager and staff.

This downtown store obvously will be smaller scale and providing a different type of service.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Stephen, I'm sure that report is in line just behind ...

"How much is left in the rainy day fund"

"How much our commissioners took of our money to go to D.C."

"What was accomplished during the junket"

"Where your tax dollars have gone over the tenure of the current commission."

Hold your breath.

introversion 10 years, 11 months ago

Admittedly, I hope things work out for this place. I really hope that their vegetarian approach doesn't come back to bite them as it seems as though vegetarianism may result in a lack of diversity of products for the customer, which is going to be the real trick of this place- making sure they can be diverse enough with the products they carry to be useful in a relatively small area. I suppose we'll have to see how it works out.

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Note to PLC Kommisioner/Grocer's (before you ask): No, the Lawrence Taxpayer's are NOT interested in subsidizing a New York Style/Farmer's Market Booth/The Merc Downtown grocery, specializing in locally grown, free range, fair trade, Vegan freindly alpha sprouts sold by farmers who earn a living wage and ride the bus. And I don't care how much money you wasted on studies with predetermined conclusions or how many questions you ask, the answer is NO!

sourpuss 10 years, 11 months ago

Forget downtown, put a decent grocer on the EAST side of Lawrence. I think east 23rd would be a great place for one. Checkers is the closest decent grocery and it is pretty far from north and deep east Lawrence. I think a market downtown is a good idea, but it isn't meant to service a large area.

For a while, Wild Oats was downtown and it was really nice to pop in and grab something, however, all of these stores seem to be organic/veg type places. Sorry, but New York stores ain't veggers... is there some sort of fear of meat downtown? Good grief.

I do wish them well though, I just don't know why really traditional stores can't make an appearance.

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

The property tax bill for that building is over $1000 per month. Gotta sell lots of tofu and alfalfa sprouts just to cover that.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

Vegetarian is everything but meat. So there will be dairy products including cheese,eggs,cottage cheese etc etc.

Will the store be totally organic? I don't know but most likely not. There are local growers for instance who are not certified but do farm organically. Then comes the label "chemical free."

In due time Lawrence will know exactly what this grocery store will offer. My guess is it will be quite acceptable to many.

Jamesaust 10 years, 11 months ago

There's no way that a grocery store is surviving downtown, especially on Mass.

But hey, if someone wants to try, as long as I don't have to subsidize it, fine.

justsomewench 10 years, 11 months ago

for $250,000, do we get to blame the consultants when it fails?

imastinker 10 years, 11 months ago

Having lived downtown - This is a bad idea.

When I lived downtown, I was a student. I had a car, and time, but not money. Making this a niche, high margin shop will drive the people to WalMart - where most of them go anyway. North lawrence and East lawrence has no money either. These people can dcrive to somewhere else to for a few bucks.

kugrad 10 years, 11 months ago

How about a grocery store in North Lawrence? It is ridiculous to have to drive all the way to the ghetto Dillons on Mass St. just to get an onion or something. Somehow I don't think the city will get around to a quarter of a million dollar study on improving North Lawrence.

By the way; How does one get this consultant job? What a load of crap these guys lay down for the money. I think the idea of local government is that the people we elect to the city commission ARE the consultants that are supposed to do the planning.

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

"I think the idea of local government is that the people we elect to the city commission ARE the consultants that are supposed to do the planning."

Apparently, they have more confidence in the "cut&paste" skills of the consultants than they have in their own.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

This idea has been on the table more or less for about two years. No tax dollars involved.....just good food and good service. Soooooooo let it fly.

Ooops. There are tax dollars involved. Payment of personal property taxes and sales tax revenue generation from sales. I say get on with it and let's make it work.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

Local and/or small business people are great for they don't seek out large tax abatements or government assistance as a rule. Often they go to the bank. These are the operations to support.

Stephen 10 years, 11 months ago


The "consultant group" Placemakers, can someone tell me where they are from. Other than the stuff written in the Journal World I can't seem to find any trace of this company on the web.

Stephen 10 years, 11 months ago

Spoke too soon, they've got all there mumbo-jumbo on that site

Jamesaust 10 years, 11 months ago

"How about a grocery store in North Lawrence?"

And a Wal-Mart. No offense, but aren't the residents of North Lawrence, and Eastern Lawrence for that matter, Wal-Mart's target consumers? Is someone living up on Lyon or Elm really supposed to drive across the entire city to get to a store?

Maybe instead of feuding with Wal-Mart over their Northwest Lawrence store, wiser City Fathers could have cut a 'two-fer' deal and added real businesses to the highway 59, 24, and 40 intersection. That even might be worth a small tax abatement.

50YearResident 10 years, 11 months ago


I want to know who authorized hiring this consultant company. What was the process and who was able to commit $250,000 of city money for this?

Why do we need outside people that know nothing about Lawrence or its history to give us idea's?

Is there any possibility of Kickbacks for this study?

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

This Kimberton "Whole Foods" Market sits in a very rural setting and does a "land office" business. Shop when visiting my in laws. It is my understanding this store is not related to the chain. No reason why downtown cannot work.

This store is located close to Seven Stars Farm home to Seven Stars Bio Dynamic Yougurt.

Smaller neighborhood stores might be the wave of the future to cut back on driving = cleaner air.

thisiknow 10 years, 11 months ago

I was raised in East Lawrence when there was a Kroger and an A&P. The town expanded and Kroger took it's store to south Lawrence. I do not recall why A&P closed . The grocery store in North Lawrence was always busy and it served a purpose. I think the logical thing would be to put a store in the tanger mall in North Lawrence and a store in East Lawrence. It does not have to be a super store and it needs to be bigger than a Kwik Shop. It needs to have affordable prices so it will survive.Why can't the city approach Wal-Mart about putting a little store in ? Or ask Target ? Or better yet--why doesn't a Lawrence business person approach the east Lawrence community or the North Lawrence community and discuss these issues with them and what they might want. If you build it they will come...

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Merrill, it is more likely that the earth shall burst into flames from global warming than a grocery store downtown succeeds. In fact, your PLC Grocer buddies know it won't work unless they can convince the taxpayers to subsidize it. Thus the $250,000 market study pointing to Portland model (one that failed, BTW). You want a grocery stores in East Lawrence and now Downtown Larence. The only grocery store you don't want is the one WalMart wants to put in at 6th and Wak where it might actually work and provide real estate and sales taxes in the millions, not to mention replace the recently lossed jobs.

You and your hemp wearing friends are completely worthless. They own a grocery store and if they want another they can put it in without any taxpayer help nor taxpayer paid market studies.

Don Zimmer 10 years, 11 months ago

Lighten up everyone.

It's their money, time and dreams.

Unless the City decides that they will have to do a "Retail Impact Study" to see if this will cut into sales of Walmart, Target, and Merc.

gccs14r 10 years, 11 months ago

There are plenty of places to drive to get your fix of day-glow pasta, so you meat-gnawing knuckledraggers are welcome to patronize any of those businesses. A downtown grocer is going to be there for the folks who care enough about the environment to walk or cycle for their shopping trips and who aren't interested in purchasing preservative-laden frankenfood, no matter how cheap it is. Folks on foot don't need parking.

Don Zimmer 10 years, 11 months ago

"A downtown grocer is going to be there for the folks who care enough about the environment to walk or cycle for their shopping trips"

Yup, that majority of people will support a grocery store and their small profit margins (see above posts).

edobbs13 10 years, 11 months ago

HELLO THERE. I'm delighted to see people doing something exciting with their lives, admirably taking part in such an enriching enterprise. I have lived downtown and not a day went by that I didn't dream of this very thing, not a day. Indeed, this brotherhood of ernest and impassioned young folks could use the communities support. I really don't understand how anyone could not rally around such noble efforts. Its a great thing! Therefore, in an attempt to counteract a portion of the pessimism, I too will be logging on to post a comment ever hour on the hour. I'll be using a lot more caps as well, so watch out.

Don Zimmer 10 years, 11 months ago


See my post.

"Lighten up everyone.

It's their money, time and dreams.

Unless the City decides that they will have to do a "Retail Impact Study" to see if this will cut into sales of Walmart, Target, and Merc." add Dillons, HyVee, etc.

My point is people vote with their pocket books ,not some Utopian mandated government ideology.

They are not asking for subsidies as far as I know so Good Luck to anyone trying to fulfill their dreams. I hope it is successful.

angstew 10 years, 11 months ago

wow, i love that every time i look at the comments section after an article, all there is are nasty comments from the SAME PEOPLE EVERYDAY!!! I figured you people would be tired of talking about downtown! half of you don't even support it, so why care, why waste your breath!

an entertainment district?!? what exactly do you mean by that!?! its already that man! don't even pretend that the day life downtown is booming!! the majority of the money comes in at night!! why do you think there has been over 45 stores that have closed down in the last 6 years!! yes, over 45 and that IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION! and yes, most of the them are retail. about 10-15 are restaurants (i consider them night life).

i agree with classclown, instead of finding the flaws in the idea, why not come up with ideas that could help them? truth is, there are is not one restaurant in town that caters to vegetarians solely. the best business ideas are the ones that fill a niche. this grocery is OBVIOUSLY not catering to the masses. it might work for downtown and for the numerous vegetarians that live here. nobody said it was going to be easy, it is a small niche, but why not give it a shot!

furthermore, i wish the best of luck to the millsteins! they are a great family and deserve the best. i worked at the casbah and i can say that the millsteins have been nothing but caring accommodating landlords who never sold us out for high rent. can't say that about most downtown landlords.

Mkh 10 years, 11 months ago

I wish the Milsteins the best of luck in this venture. I'll admit it will be tough, but I am confident they can pull it off. I just hope they will provide enough non-speciality items to keep routine business going and serve everyday needs.

I for one will certainly give it a shot and tell others to do the same. Good luck Casey!

LogicMan 10 years, 11 months ago

If not an Aldi's (small store, low-end products), how about a Trader Joe's (small store, higher end / interesting products)?

George_Braziller 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion you do more damage to Lawrence and Douglas county than any broken sewer line with your constant negatvity. Are you capable of a constructive comment?

Didn't think so.

Sknaht, George

"It IS their money and it IS their PIPEDREAM>

The problem is that when the dream CRASHES, it damges Downtown and hastens its already breakneck pace into being boarded up or so exclusive and elite that only a few can afford it.

Stupid is as stupid does.



Nikki May 10 years, 11 months ago

gccs14r for the record, many people don't HAVE places to walk, and I still maintain that other areas would benefit from some sort of shopping. (too)

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

If a friggin McDonalds couldnt make it downtown...get a clue lol.....Wild Oats couldnt make it......the grocery store in NORTH LAWRENCE couldnt make long did it take for competitive stores on 6th street??.....and you think we need another grocer on mass??? lol where will they park??? is anyone thinking about the traffic a grocery store entails??? lol or we just build it then worry about that later lol....if you cant find enough of a selection of foods downtown then you should move to topeka....even if there was one down there no one would use it...i seen a guy on the transit the other day who went all the way to Target to buy groceries lol...from downtown....tear this one up and throw it away now.

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

I wanted to put in a "quick store" on Mass; spouse would not let me, said it would not work, that there would be too much shop lifting; then I suggested a liquor store; I think that would have worked, but spouse did not want to deal with the downtown clientele. So much for my pipe dreams.

Good luck, Millsteins.

angstew 10 years, 11 months ago

wow, got me. you cut me deep.

obviously nobody is forcing me to come into this "heated kitchen". i'm just tired of all the hypocracy. just trying to point out all the negativity this forum gets on a daily basis, mostly by the same people. its not healthy and not productive.

i can handle spice, but this is getting out of control! maybe, i SHOULD stay out of the kitchen. dully noted and thank you so much for pointing it out to me.


Don Zimmer 10 years, 11 months ago


So your solution is that nobody follows their dreams and risks the chances of crashing or accomplishing their dreams.

Who are we to tell property owners can legally do with their property. Oh yeah, the City commissioners.

Come on April.

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago


Why wouldnt they want advice from people that actually live here??....not just their friends who just moved here and live in "east" lawrence and think that their friends idea is sooo cool......marion is right in saying that it gets ridiculous seeing businesses come and go downtown.....start doing some actual research and come up with businesses that actually offer something.... i wanted to add to my previous post....speaking of The Merc......they couldnt survive downtown either....there are already way too many places downtown offering cheap vegetarian grab-n-go meals.....this isnt New York...we barely have how many people here? lol hell we JUST got a Home Depot lol

sofaking_wetaughtit 10 years, 11 months ago

i even think this is a great idea.

its on mass, which last time i checked was the most happenin' street in "downtown," a place where people tend to hang out, shop, live, etc. correct me if im wrong please, marion, cause you seem to know a lot about pretty much everything; which reminds me my daughter is looking for a piano instructor, interested?

best of luck to you three, dont let the unhappy, negative people discourage you. most of them will be buying your produce down the road anyways.

to everyone... dont forget about bikes, they're useful for traveling to grocery stores

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

sofaking correcting you if you are wrong lol

its not happening....go look at how many vacant storefronts there are.....why did Casbah shut its doors downtown?....ignore the typical negativity and look at facts from people that have lived here long enough to know what works and doesnt.....why would Bo Harris of Harris Construction say publicly it wont work??? ignore the ingnorant and take heed of the most all this business will do is take money from already established eateries downtown....maybe enough to force the other biz to close...then when they fail they close too...big THANKS to that just wont be enough to keep it alive...i encourage people to follow their dreams...and I also speak up when i see hard times coming....

Emily Hadley 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm excited! I have no doubt that some of these commenting curmudgeons will drag themselves offline to loiter there and complain about our trip to hell in a handbasket.


Don Zimmer 10 years, 11 months ago


let the free market determine whether it succeeds or fails not some artificial Commission dictated doctrine "Retail impact Study".Our downtown will survive if the Commission stays out of it because of factors that exist in Lawrence, one of few places in the US.

protectionism stifles creativity and competition and the losers are the customers.

Things change and if you buy things a dime on the dollar eventually some business will find their level not some consultant inspired fantasy.

angstew 10 years, 11 months ago

i also agree with marion in that it is tiring to see so many business come and go. we don't need to pay consultants to tell us what they think we need. downtown can't get their own city to support them, why would they have out of towners make their decisions for them. we are wasting a lot of money on mistakes...and not just on downtown.

BUT, about the grocery store, whether you want to believe it or not, they are filling a niche, its a small niche, but even a small niche can be successful. Au Marche and Brits are successful and they cater to a small percentage of people and downtown wouldn't be the same without them.

Even if the store were to fail...i always say go down in flames if you have to, at least you gave it a shot.

sofaking_wetaughtit 10 years, 11 months ago

you're absolutely right tori, sorry. im so glad that there's people like you and marion to correct me and get me back on track. thanks for living here for so long and knowing what works and what doesnt.

angstew 10 years, 11 months ago

kansasdaughter i love lawrence and i love downtown! don't worry, i won't let these negative nancys ruin it for me. i will always try to shop local over the alternative, not because i'm an elistist (like some people would think), but because i sincerely care about this city and would hate to see it turn into me i'm from topeka, you don't want that!

i just hope lawrencians can see the upside of shopping local. its not a popularity contest, its whats best for the city...not street rep.

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

sofa... well it wont....i just gave you names of businesses that offered the same thing that failed....I wasnt picking on you....and marion and I are not the same breed coming at this from a business point of make it successful would take more than just putting a grocer not going to tell you what would help it because im not going to get a piece of the profits haha....just offering more food downtown is not going to succeed......part of their claim is that many people work downtown....wellll most of them work in food they are already eating lol....the vegans in this town have already been shopping at their desired markets...including the farmers market....has there been vegans asking for another market? or just people that dont want to walk to Dillons asking for someplace closer

doesnot and angs again i wouldnt mind a business taking the chance of failure or success but when its already obvious...and when it superceeds its own risk to put other quality established local businesses at risk..

guppypunkhead 10 years, 11 months ago

i hope it all works out because i look forward to shopping there. i live near 10th and new york- you try walking to the mass. st. dillons.

good luck guys!

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

I live in North Lawrence...where there is NO GROCERS...I walk or ride the bus everywhere...before the transit system i walked from 23rd and Louisiana to the Riverfront mall everyday for work (after having two bikes stolen)lol I understand it's hard for some people on that side of town to get to a store....but the risk of taking other businesses down and then failing themself which leaves the customers they did consume lost in space again..isnt worth it.. there is a transit sytem...that is cheap and goes to alllll the grocers in this town so you dont have to worry about buying too much to carry back....not to mention all the steps we take to make this town bike another poster mentioned.....sooo Lawrence by using the transit system...or buying a bike from Sunflower :P

pelliott 10 years, 11 months ago

North Lawrence is the place to go, all those country neighbors don't you know? Not another store for 15miles, forget those city lights, give me those northern sites.

East Lawrence another one, new neighborhoods all aglow, watchin far east lawrence grow. Needs a good market there.

angstew 10 years, 11 months ago

tori i do ultimately agree with you. i do understand that businesses of the same breed have tried and failed. i'll be honest though...and of course this is my opinion, but i would rather see a grocer give it another shot than to see another t-shirt/sports memorabilia shop. talk about flooding the market...but i guess it is a college town. it also doesn't help that it is extremely expensive to have shop, bar, or restaurant downtown. some of buildings have been sitting empty for way too long, making downtown unappealing, which is unfortunate. downtown needs a face lift and all the negative press isn't helping.

downtown is saturated with restaurants and bars, i will give you that.

sofaking_wetaughtit 10 years, 11 months ago're an idiot to believe that these people are opening a grocery store for vegans; they make up less than 1% of the population.

many people appreciate fresh produce and healthy foods, not only vegetarians.

redneckwoman 10 years, 11 months ago

The only reason I shopped downtown was at Children's Orchard & The Salvation Army Store now both are gone so I am never in downtown not even to drive through.

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago


name calling? lol and you are expecting people to take your opinions serious?? then again look at your screen name lol everything they offer was offered at WILD OATS...and The MERC..........there are "healthy foods" offered at allllll the chains now..there will be healthy foods at the FARMERS MARKET.....what they have in that store will not be the draw...they will only be drawing people that want to "support" another local biz...which will dwindle faster than the flame was lit....take the blindfold off and look at the big picture not just what you imagine life is like lol....i can see its assumed i dont want this store to exist or something....let me say this....there are about 5 other places I could imagine them being more successful than downtown.....and as i said there ARE some things they could do to make a good attempt at success downtown....doubt they have thought of it....oh well......I obviously care about this town more than you though....just like its ok to pursue dreams its a right to be able to offer an opinion on their pursuit....someone send sofa a double vanilla latte from Henry's lol

marie_kimberly 10 years, 11 months ago

I think that the reason so much anger has been expressed in this post is due to low blood sugar levels and lack of a healthy diet..... tofu.

Perhaps these readers were too hungry to write objective not to mention constructive comments. If there would have been a fabulous vegetarian market run by three down to earth people, these postees could have leveled their blood sugar (with some delicious tofu let's say) instead of going home hungry and writing highly toxic, unnecessary comments of which nobody becomes the wiser.
Anger is totalllllly not worhty of a post and its so uncool to have read so many on this article :( Onto a positive post now, I think that the idea of this market is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. The compariosn to Wild Oats is irrelavant in that Wild Oats was yearssssssssssss ago and it was not as quaint nor specialized as this market intends to be. P.P.S. I AM PRO VEGETARIAN MARKET!!!!!!! And absolutely think that these posting meanies are not eating their greenies! They could use a little tofu to calm down!

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

supporting this is cool....but support it somewhere it has a chance to succeed....the "supporters" here are missing the point...first to assume anyone with a negative comment is against this place existing lol....its the point its going downtown....if you want a vegetarian market...encourage them to put it somewhere it has a better chance of success....dont just support it because you want it.....its their livelihood on the's just your option of where to shop

budwhysir 10 years, 11 months ago

Better stop and see what the big guys think about this. Im sure the existing grocery stores and places like wally world have some input. Maybe we should build a brand new wally world downtown.

justsomewench 10 years, 11 months ago

i wonder how this venture will affect the merc's profit during the expectedly short duration it's going to survive...anyone want to venture a guess?

if it's as successful as the handful of you folks purport it will be, it might just be good enough to knock both of those organic grocers into slow but sure financial demise.

white_mountain 10 years, 11 months ago

still trying to understand the logic behind using paid consultants for what amounts to a central economic planning committee..

after all, if a grocer saw an opportunity to make some money by siting downtown, they would go ahead and site their business downtown.

budwhysir 10 years, 11 months ago

This might just be an adventure that the merc might invest in. That would take the possibility of hurting thier own business a distant thought

justsomewench 10 years, 11 months ago

i rather doubt the merc is swimming in dough enough for satellite stores. if they were, i would imagine they'd be headlining that fact. their reputation alone would be quite a selling point.

JayCat_67 10 years, 11 months ago

But there is already a shop selling orgasmic items down by 17th and Mass... Huh? Oh! ORGANIC! Ooops.

Robin Smart 10 years, 11 months ago

My son and I have been trying to open a grocery store in North Lawrence for over a year now. We have been trying to find investers to help us get started. We have all of the foot work done from the business plan to filling out the application to be a Vision card provider. As far as a small business loan, forget it. You more or less have enough of your own money to get approved for a small business loan, so what's the use. WE NEED TO FIND INVESTORS willing to invest in a business that is sure to do great in North Lawrence. Any one with any suggestions to Investors please let me know. We have great ideas such as free delivery to senior citizens and the physically disabled. We are ready to get a North Lawrence grocery store going. PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU.

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

rsmart, your idea of delivery groceries is great, but free is not the answer. The only entities that can go into business with the idea of providing free services are governments. You want to target the people who are willing to pay for services.

JayCat_67 10 years, 11 months ago


If I had the money to invest, I'd be right there for you. I'd like to see something in North Lawrence before downtown. North Lawrence has really improved since I was a pizza driver 20 years ago. I'd like to see the folks that live up there have a nice, convenient place to shop.

Robin Smart 10 years, 11 months ago

WHERE ARE YOU FROM MARION? I was born and raised in North Lawrence and know how well a grocery store will do. There are over 1200 residents in North Lawrence alone and still growing, not counting all the commuters from North of Lawrence. The population in the estimated trade in this area alone is over 26,000 this is from a survey done in 2005. So until you have your facts straight, don't tell North Lawrence people what they don't need.

JayCat_67 10 years, 11 months ago

There is some new development in North Lawrence and housing is generally cheaper there. North Lawrence is changing quickly, and eventually a regular grocery store will make it there. I also drive over three miles to load up my shopping cart at Checkers. But, if I only need a few things I'll go three blocks to Hy-Vee. My commute is more or less dictated by economics.

63BC 10 years, 11 months ago

You could get all the stuff the study recommends, plus lots more, plus have a retail anchor for downtown if Wal-Mart were allowed to build a Supercenter at the Tanger Mall site.


white_mountain 10 years, 11 months ago

63- the consultants have proposed that we create a meat market downtown.. not sure that a super Wal-mart has such a thing, but perhaps it does.

by the way, wasn't "the cheese shop" a monty python skit?

Robin Smart 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion You may pick up a copy of the survey at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. The survey was contucted by the I-70 business center. There was also a survey done by Forbes Magazine.


Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

What I want to know is, who is going to throw the fish? We need a fish-thrower in downtown Lawrence!

Robin Smart 10 years, 11 months ago

Pilgrim are you from North Lawrence? If not, please read my comment to Marion posted at 8:51. Same applies to you.

JayCat_67 10 years, 11 months ago

Oooooo, then we could film motivational, teambuilding tapes right here in downtown Larryville!

"I need one flounder."

"One founder coming up!"


Godot 10 years, 11 months ago


"Toss me a fresh, Kansas river carp"

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Obviously, you all have missed the point of my posts. You don't need a market study paid for by the taxpayers to put in a grocery store. Either do or do not, BUT QUIT SPENDING PUBLIC TAX DOLLARS ON PRIVATE PROJECTS! It looks really fing suspicious when two of the three PLC Kommissioners ARE GROCERS!

Sorry for being so negative but Lawrence isn't the PLC private little game of Sim City. These are real dollars they are wasting, real jobs that are being lost, and a real town they are going to ruin if they are not opposed.

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

i wont commit to saying a full grocer would succeed in north lawrence.....but what they are proposing to put downtown....would do better closer to north lawrence....i would probably even bet there are more "natural food"/vegetarians from this side of the bridge than "east" Lawrence far as 7-11 prices lol thats all we have over here right now...we have more options for liquor than food lol... i usually stay away from this forum stuff...but the whole beginning to this article has been the topic of downtown usually is.....we focus on what is not already downtown....what about what IS can Mr. Lawhorn sleep at night bashing the downtown businesses in promotion of a business that hasnt even opened its doors say all downtown has to offer is bread.....VERY GOOD BREAD at that....and expensive cheese??? thats it??? and bitchin about $8 meals?????? every place i have eaten downtown has been well worth the $8 and half of them were much less!!!!!! so $8 for a good unique meal with the service of smiling local faces versus $8 of a new tofu that no one else in Lawrence has that costs them $800 to advertise with the World Co. to get us to know that brand even existed and they carry it lol....i mean he doesnt think that organic foods are cheap does he?? STOP BASHING DOWNTOWN AND CELEBRATE IT.... and supporting the addition of businesses known to fail is not celebratory.........but hell GOOD LUCK TO YOU 3....if you make it over the hump and start falling short of ideas to keep it alive...i'm here for ya!!! in exchange for a quarter share of course ;)

billsboys 10 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like Marion has an axe to grind. What's the deal?

Lighten up man. How is there anyway that having a good organic market downtown would not be a good idea? A lot of people live downtown or close to and would like to pick up essential groceries without having to drive somewhere. Also, many people live close to downtown who could benefit from a local, downtown place to shop. The combination of the three stores (Roundcorner drug, the cheese shop, and the new market) would be the perfect combination. They would provide all of the items people look for in a grocery store.

Anyone who has been to larger cities knows how convenient it is to have a nice store among the downtonwn shops to get food/grocery items. Seeing that Lawrence's downtown area is a busy city center and is constantley growing, this seems like a perfect fit.

Marion is just so old and bitter that she's all worked up about opposing good, legitimate local business ventures that people actually support. What is your real problem with this idea Marion, other tha just being lame and unrealistic? Maybe you should try and actually get out of the house for once and see what the people in the Lawrence community are looking for instead of assuming that everyone else is a shut-in too.

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

meowllry??? lol like i said this is their livelihood on the line...and the livelihood of the OTHER already ESTABLISHED business owners downtown...if these were your friends...and you had the knowledge about this business type would tell your friends NOOOOO....all you guys care about is seeing someones dream accomplished....and a new place to buy dont give a shizzzzzle about the venturers' best interests or how they will survive if it dont give a rats dairy air about the other businesses this hurts....none of you have repeated my words about the FARMERS MARKET....having a place to sit and have lunch??? is not filling a NICHE downtown....honestly this horse is dead...they are going to open...i just hope you all dont stop going to the places you already frequent and claim to "support" just to "be cool" "hey i shopped at the new place" pffft ps. a meat market???....not in a million years in this town lol....Choice Foods couldnt stay in business...after being open how long?? supplying meat to all the local biz's?? between kissin the states rear and competing with out of town prices....definitely $250,000 POOF..was anyone on that team of consultants related to Lou? lol... All you have to do is ask Salina how they do they maintain their spread out population?? with 2 malls.....and a popular downtown??<<rhetorical but those that know feel free to share lol

machiavelli 10 years, 11 months ago

The person who suggested ALDI earlier in this thread is really on to something. I think that the idea of having an ALDI store downtown (preferably in the old Wild Oats building) is an absolutely wonderful idea, for lots of reasons. ALDI is possibly the only chain I can think of whose business model would work with this location. They are a no-frills, low-cost operation that caters to ordinary folks, and maybe that might just be the answer to all the "specialty" stores that have come and gone while trying to capture a "niche" market. They offer quality merchandise and good service to their customers, and their customers (of which I am one) tend to be loyal. In my hometown, the older, price conscious folks would walk six blocks just to shop there.

Keep in mind, too, that ALDI isn't just a grocery store. It has an interesting mix of general merchandise products that varies from week to week.

ALDI is a cool little grocery store. The mix of people shopping and working there give it lots of soul, and that's exactly what downtown needs. It may not seem like an obvious solution, but I think it would work.

Meatwad 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm looking forward to the downtown grocery store. If the prices and selection are good, I'll certainly shop there more than Hyvee/Dillons. It would be great if they'd also offer some lunch options, maybe a salad bar. Some cities have 'build your own salad' options, where people choose their salad ingredients from behind a counter and the employee mixes their salad with dressing.

meowllory 10 years, 11 months ago

I applaud Casey, Josh and Cassy for stepping up with this fantastic idea. The grocery store will be fantastic, especially after living downtown for years and having to haul a weeks worth of grocery on my bike in the snow.

This is great for downtown employees too. Stop in after work or during a lunch break and avoid the crowded checkout lines at the larger grocers.

Even though I live in Indian Hills now, I'm excited for the veggie grocer and supporting some fantastic people.

meowllory 10 years, 11 months ago

People also complain about free rent (blah blah blah), but who wouldn't welcome the opportunity to live out a dream? They are very fotunate for this opportunity and for all we know they are paying the rent with their own money.

So unless you help write up the lease, I suggest you drop it because no one knows the details of the agreement except for those involved.

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Yeah it would be nice if the skies were always blue and the sun always shined. That would be nice, really, really, nice.

You know what else would be really, really, nice. If a grocery store opened in downtown and carried exactly what I wanted and at really low prices and the paid their employees a living wage and benefits for domestic partners, and they had enough walk-in business to make money so they wouldn't have to have parking. That would be really, really, nice. I think the City Kommission needs to do that! That would be really, really, really special and really, really nice.

I hope my new tone is approved of by people who might think my past realism as too negative. I think it JUST GREAT. GO DOWNTOWN!!!

hiker50 10 years, 11 months ago

Here is an article from yesterday's Ames, Iowa's Tribune on what a success story our downtown is, and why Ames should be pushing to preserve their own downtown.


Althea Schnacke 10 years, 11 months ago

Monkeys on a stick with ice cream on top.


Don Zimmer 10 years, 11 months ago


There is nothing like a dream to create the future." --Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist and playwright

budwhysir 10 years, 11 months ago

I feel another quick trip would suit just fine. This would allow everyone leaving last call not only to buy groceries but also fill up the tank and make sure they can make it home

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

A liquor store would really clean up, with tons of security.

altarego 10 years, 11 months ago


I'm new here, so I certainly have no axe to grind. I appreciate your opinions on downtown since you have been around so long. I imagine you must be quite successful at business with your solid understanding of the local market. I'm sure your cynicism diplayed here is only for the good of the budding entrepeneurs, and they should pack up their bags and quit while their succesful businessman daddy (you must know him) recovers from this little misguided "gosh I lub my children" venture before it fails. You are a good person.

One more thing. While these LJW comment sections are a little rough for my tastes, I must tell you as one new friend to another new friend, you should consider not posting the photo linked above. Those sunglasses make you look like a dude.

Have a nice day, Your new friend

localbird 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion: I am surprised that you know, so greatly, what necessities downtown is lacking and what it is not; considering that you do not live in Lawrence. I am also shocked and a little taken back by your age, I thought that from the tone of your posts that you could not be over the tender age of twenty. Some people never grow up. I guess your comments are important, it is important to know what an out of towner thinks. Since you would not ever use the grocery store of course you do not think it is a good idea. Just out of curiosity what small business do you own in Perry that gives you so a wide breadth and depth of knowledge. (Judging from your posts elsewhere) Thanks.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 11 months ago

First rule of grocery store ownership: do not operate in high crime areas. I grew up in Wichita and saw inner-city grocery stores go under one after the other. They spent more money on security guards than they did on checkers. People would stuff meat down their pants and try to walk out in broad daylight. They'd get tackled by a guard, someone would get stabbed... it was a joke. Barry Sanders bought his dad an old IGA store on Grove St. (Barry was just trying to support the community, you have to applaud the effort). It lasted about 2 years.

The goal of having a downtown grocery store while not addressing the homeless "issues" that already exist is inconsistent. We either get the homeless under control (and yes, I am aware that only a fraction of the homeless are creating the problems) or we forget about a downtown grocery store.

A downtown grocery store is a great idea, but not viable in consideration of the prevailing leadership climate.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion's business history in Lawrence: (somebody was gonna post this sooner or later)

localbird 10 years, 11 months ago

Posted by Marion (Marion Lynn) on February 19, 2007 at 9:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No grocery store located in Downtown will be successful but if these people want to pour their money down a well, more power to them.

They are as stupefyingly ignorant as yourself.



Marion: Judging from the link from snap_pop_no_crackle, it seems as though you are truly the most proficient master in what businesses succeed and which ones fail. Your advice should be disregarded by the three Amigos as you call them, as you clearly are simply a negative person and are "stupefyingly ignorant" about how to make a business succeed. I am excited for the store and wish all three the best of luck.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion, a spellchecker could be your friend.



localbird 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion: Your level of maturity is once again fully exposed and in action. I understand that you must be distraught that it has been posted that you went bankrupt, but when you act like a grumpy old man it only further decreases your credibility (which is currently nonexistent). Maybe you should spend less time trying to ruin others "pipe dreams" and focus on your own e-bay business. (Your business surely helps the local economy/community that you care so much about.)

P.S. Did you say you would fart in my general direction and taunt me again? Are you drunk?

henry44 10 years, 11 months ago

Maid Marion, I liked it better when I thought you were a woman. But that doesn't matter these days. Does it?

love Henry

ToriFreak13 10 years, 11 months ago

Ok OK ok stop picking on Marion long enough to take a look at how Salina does it while you are there go look at their calendar of events...they used to host the women's big 8 tourney every year too...yeah in Salina, KS lol...our ex KU bball players go to Salina to play on their semi pro team after college...and I dont mean a bigger Allen Fieldhous....I mean our own seperate arena that the college has NOTHING to do with lol....why not beat Kansas CIty to the punch instead of letting them steal MORE business away....while im on the rampage lmaooo where do we put it??? tear down the jail and plop it right there...move the jail to the riverfront mall.. besides that.. anyone else notice long time businesses closing and being replaced with DOLLAR many do we have now??lol so where are the big spenders shopping?? hmmmm the State should pressure people to report Consumption Tax :O maybe they would shop downtown more lol

Meatwad 10 years, 11 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront wrote:

"Meatwad, Lawrence downtown had a salad bar restaurant. Anyone remember? There was a spuds restaurant. The most practical was Jennings Donuts where one could get a sandwhich on bread instead of some stupid fila bread sandwhich served by a chick with hair on her legs and birkenstocks.

Why don't the Millsteins open a loose meat sandwhich shop. 12 bologna sandwhichs for $1.99 with a six pack thrown in for a total of $10.00."

Ewww Hawk!! Are you from that show "My Name is Earl" ? If I wanted to eat crap like donuts, bologna and a six pack, I wouldn't want a downtown organic market either. GROSS

Meatwad 10 years, 11 months ago

I don't care what shoes someone wears (she must have a lot of money though if she wears Birkenstocks).

I just care that their hands are clean. Unlike your nose-picking bologna, donut & six pack servers.


Jersey_Girl 10 years, 11 months ago

North Lawrence needs a grocery store more than downtown does. More people live in North Lawrence than they do downtown. Put some money into the Dillons at 17th and Mass and fix it up if downtowners need a grocery store. There's NOTHING to fix up in North Lawrence.

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

It is high time for the old Lawrence hippies who have made it rich to come to Buddha.

Mkh 10 years, 11 months ago

Posted by Pogo (anonymous) on February 21, 2007 at 7:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Millstein? That name rings bells. Wasn't it a Millstein who started the head shop Strawberry Fields (now Fields) in the very early '70's or late '60's financed by dope deals?"

Ummmm, no I think your incorrect. I'm not sure if Mr. Millstein ever worked there, but he did not start it. Kim Kern did.

Pogo: "idiotic support of "the Merc" which in turn moved to "rich person" land outside of the downtown."

LOL! "Rich person land". Are you serious? They are right next to "Buckey's". Do you have any idea what it costs to own property in "downtown Lawrence". It's not the "poor" who can survive down there.

I'll agree that the Merc's prices have gotten pretty steep, but then again, so has prices across the board.

Pogo: "The Lawrence, Kansas of yesteryear, which was diverse is more and more becoming a place that only people with money can pay for."

The Lawrence of "yesteryear" is Gone. What is left is now only something people "with money can pay for". Lawrence has digged itself into a deep hole. I'm not sticking around to see it sink.

Btw, what difference would it have made if "Fields" was "financed by dope deals" in the early years? Does that even matter?

henry44 10 years, 11 months ago

Godot... you talking to yourself?

Pogo... name sounds familiar. Wasn't it a Pogo that opened up the child day care center in the early 30's. I seem to remember his crusty a$$ serving time for getting a little too close with 'those cute boys'.

Unfortunately you weren't able to make the leap from counter culture to legitimate business man. Pretty suprising to me considering Lawrence's 'incestial' qualities. Seems like this would be the place for you.



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