Previous   Next

Does Lawrence need a grocery store downtown?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 24, 2010

Browse the archives

Photo of Aaron Dollinger

“I don’t think so, with all the bars and restaurants. It wouldn’t be able to compete with the larger established grocery stores across town.”

Photo of Andrew Rabin

“No - no more grocery stores necessary in Lawrence.”

Photo of Bob Perry

“I don’t think so … I think there are enough conveniently nearby.”

Photo of Brenda Craven

“No, I don’t think so. They have a lot around already.”

Related story


AnnaUndercover 8 years, 2 months ago

Um, dudes. There is one. It's called The Casbah. It's at 803 Mass. Street near 9th, if my memory and Google Maps are both accurate.

It's small, but they have produce, canned foods, and enough locally made organic products to keep my hippie tendencies satisfied.

I miss New York. My grocery store was close, so I could walk to get my food.

AnnaUndercover 8 years, 2 months ago

Oh NO! I read the accompanying article. My precious Casbah is closing!



BrianR 8 years, 2 months ago

A grocery downtown was nice and I will miss The Casbah. Andrew, hope it's not too late to change your major.

jonas_opines 8 years, 2 months ago

Low margins on groceries, so they need large inventories to compensate for that. You need large floorspace for large inventories, and rent is prohibitive for that on Mass. and surrounding areas. No grocery store will last downtown.

Lee Eldridge 8 years, 2 months ago

While it would be nice to have one downtown, it's obvious that there just isn't the business to sustain one.

kernal 8 years, 2 months ago

Since when do we have Wild Oats? They haven't been around for years. Yes, Andrew, you should definitely change your major or prehaps do a small study on demographics, but first look up the definition. I hear that there are no grocery stores East of 19th & Mass until you get to Eudora. Regardless of the Yellow Pages listing, that does not include Kwik Shop, the land of junk food.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't know about downtown, but we need one on the east side of town. That big empty lot at 23rd and O'Connell would be a nice spot for one. I miss being able to walk to the store.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

is cabash that euro-type grocery store?

dillons isn't really that far off of downtown.

Seth Cole 8 years, 2 months ago

I think North Lawrence needs a grocery store again. Roger's IGA used to be a hop, skip, and jump away right over the bridge. Of course, there is a severely annoying detour at the moment.

sassypants 8 years, 2 months ago

We need one again in North Lawrence, but that will never happen. Too many thugs ripping off and stores cant stay in business because of that.

redwombat 8 years, 2 months ago

I wonder how many of the people that were asked that question actually live on the East side? Well I do. I've lived here for many years. A grocery store that doesn't require us to get in the car and drive 10 minutes to get to would be nice, but it also has to be a store that we can afford to shop at. Dillon's of the Damned (Dirty Dillon's, Danger Dillon's) is what would be our local store. It is more expensive than the other Dillon's stores in town and has significantly less selection. If you live over here the one thing that always gets this community's hopes up is the idea of a local store. Any entrepreneur willing?

George_Braziller 8 years, 2 months ago

I wish the Merc would put in a satellite store downtown. They have the volume buying power to make it economically feasible. Downtown is more than just bars and shops. There are a lot of people who live downtown, in East Lawrence, Old West, and Pinckney Neighborhoods who shopped at the Merc when it was at 7th and Maine, not only for the products, but because it was convenient.

madameX 8 years, 2 months ago

Or Checkers. I'd like to see a satellite Checkers location downtown. There's a building that already looks like a vacant grocery store on Vermont that I ride my bike past on my way home almost every day (or did until it got so damn cold out) that I always think would make a great smaller grocery store.

rocket 8 years, 2 months ago

Could they have asked someone who even lived in Lawrence?! or for that matter downtown? I have lived downtown for 12 years, and yes, myself and neighbors would love to have a grocery in the downtown area. Sorry to see the Casbah go... but maybe a grocery with a bit more products and produce, hope someone can pull it off!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 2 months ago

The answer to the question is clearly NO. If the answer was YES, then the community would have supported all those stores that have failed. It's more about economics than about our desire to be a hip town.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

you guys have basically the same amount of grocery stores as salina. we are very similarly sized towns (w/ the exception of the university, but that goes w/out saying). so why do you have TWO walmarts? hutchinson has one, manhattan has one, salina has one and lawrence has two. i don't get that.

schula 8 years, 2 months ago

I think there needs to be one on the East side more than downtown. I keep hoping one will go in where they are building the new Tractor Supply Store off of O'Connell Road.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

as for cheese, it depends on the reason for the cheese. if its a sammich, then it depends on the meat. usually provolone but sometimes cheddar. and, yes, gorgonzola is great if it is an italian sammich.

i love cheese and crackers. one of my favorite snacks.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

autie, which dillons was that? when i was a student there i remember walking over to that dillons off of, i think it was like 27th street?... where that dollar tree is now. i lived on 25th street at the time.

vega 8 years, 2 months ago

Amazing - all these interviewed people up there are NOT from Lawrence, and they get to say what we need? Sorry to hear about Casbah - they had a nice local fresh produce so you could get it on days when the farmer's market is closed, and you needn't spend half an hour driving back and forth for a couple of tomatos. I'll miss it.

newsreader 8 years, 2 months ago


If Lawrence "needed" a grocery store downtown, they wouldn't keep closing. Obviously there isn't enough business for one.

tvc 8 years, 2 months ago

The Casbah sucked. It was expensive, and they did not keep regular hours.

schula 8 years, 2 months ago

As for cheese, I like a good smoky cheddar

50YearResident 8 years, 2 months ago

Everyone that has lived in Lawrence for a few years knows that the last grocery store downtown could not stay open because of the lack of parking. For a grocery store to be profitable they need volume traffic which requires a large parking space. Parking is a problem for every buisness downtown and will be the downfall of many more downtown stores. It all comes down to this: No "Parking Space", no suscessful business! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out............

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 2 months ago

I want a video rental store on my block too, so what?

Definately gorgonzola, lightly melted on crackers.

educatedintheusa 8 years, 2 months ago

The entire Lawrence Community would benefit if Brook Creek, Prairie Park, East Lawrence, North Lawrence, Old West Lawrence, and Pinckney neighborhoods had bodegas to fulfill grocery needs. Less traffic, healthier residents, and neighborhood jobs could result if bodegas with nutricious and affordable foods and other staples, (diapers, TP), were an integral part of neighborhoods.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

autie, that sucks. i don't like walmart. i will admit that i have to go there from time to time-- but our target is just a "regular" target. if we had a super target like y'all, i would NEVER step foot into walmart. it is truly an evil corporation. as is mcdonalds... but that is another story.

autie are you going to see the new celine dion concert movie? you were the first person i thought of when i saw the commercials.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

autie, that sucks. i don't like walmart. i will admit that i have to go there from time to time-- but our target is just a "regular" target. if we had a super target like y'all, i would NEVER step foot into walmart. it is truly an evil corporation. as is mcdonalds... but that is another story.

autie are you going to see the new celine dion concert movie? you were the first person i thought of when i saw the commercials.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

i have no idea as to why that last comment was posted twice.

schula 8 years, 2 months ago

Honey -- why do you think autie would be going to see celine dion? He is more of a zz top person.

Also, I agree with you about Wal Mart and McDonald's. I love Target and would rather eat at Wendy's or Burger King than McDonald's.

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

Embrace the Walmart.

Downtown needs a Walmart.

You're all just jealous of my new Walmart.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

LOL i basically wanted to see aut's reaction. i am listening to pandora internet radio and there was an advertisement for that movie so i thought i'd pose the question. ;P i think i'd watch a celine dion movie before i watched that miley cyrus movie. now THAT would be torturous. makes me so glad i only have sons-- it would kill me if my 11 year old daughter had her crap plastered on the walls and listened to her (and i use the term lightly) music. cough

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

You live in Salina, you don't have a say in the matter.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

well, one of the things my mom did right was while my brother and i were little, we didn't patronize mcdonald's... we ate at hardees occasionally and maybe wendy's or BK sometimes but hardly ever mcd's. i really only starting eating there when i became a teenager and my friends were going there, so of course, i would tag along. anyway, suffice it to say, i have always found their food somewhat disgusting and when i saw supersize me a few years ago, that sealed the deal. now, i eat breakfast from that place maybe once per year (if even that) and i never eat their lunch/dinner menu. especially their fries. ESPECIALLY their fries. shudders oh, sometimes in the summer we will go thru their drive and get something to drink.

remember woolco, anyone? that preceeded walmart in this town and as i understand it (per wiki), when woolco started going under, walmart moved into those spaces and that's one of the ways they grew expontially in the early 80s.

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

And what Walmart does in the privacy of its own home is of no concern to you or I.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

sure i do. i have family in larryville and i still visit on a semi-regular basis. plus, you never know, i may move back someday. so there. sticking my tongue out

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

^^^ yet another reason to not eat there. we don't want the bat cave smelling like poots.

BorderRuffian 8 years, 2 months ago

Double GASP! Can you believe Anna_Undercover actually committed the heinous sin of commenting BEFORE she read the entire article???

Say it ain't so!

BorderRuffian 8 years, 2 months ago

Face it, Larryvillians - downtown is NOT the international Mecca you think it is. It is more like a micro Boulder, Colorado, with its trendy little eclectic shops and lots and lots of bars. Downtown is NOT the kind of place for sustaining surrounding neighborhoods, nor, do I think, does it want to be. With the lack of parking (and free parking), extremely high rental prices (retail), and general lack of neighborhood planning in regards to commercial development, downtown is hardly conducive to large anchor stores or grocery stores. I think city planners have been more interested in creating this strange admix of little specialty stores, restaurants, and bars in the interest of attracting college kids (and their frats and sororities) than they have been in creating neighborhoods that are vital and sustaining.

Wouldn't it be interesting if city planners actually began thinking about revitalizing the close-to-downtown neighborhoods? Everyone pouts about how awful it is that west Larryville is filled with Walmarts, grocery stores and other amenities, as if it all represents some sort of plague on downtown. But, IT ISN'T ALL ABOUT DOWNTOWN! It's about the people living in Larryville! Larryville is MUCH MORE than the sniveling little KU kids. It's also about all the folks living there who were there long before each year's crop of funky little jayhawks, and who will be there long after most of them have either dropped out drunk, or (gasp) graduated.

KU may be the biggest establishment in Larryville, but the permanent residents in Larryville represent a huge part of the purchasing power and dollars spent there. It's about time for downtown to sober up and get it right!

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't pout about West Lawrence, I love West Lawrence. If I need to get drunk and throw up in an alley I go to East Lawrence, but all else is on the West side.

West Lawrence is so awesome.


Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

i like the area around downtown... the homes and such. the neighborhood is kind of raggedy in some parts but it reminds me a bit of the north end of salina, which is also kind of raggedy but that's where i grew up so i like it.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

that place looked very yuppie to me, spacehog. that's why i never went in there. i have been to downtown lawrence probably a dozen times w/in the past couple of years (which is kind of alot considering i live 130 miles away) and all i've ever done is walk by that place, glance inside and think "i bet that food is hellafied expensive!"

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

wilbur, salina has a dollar general downtown. and you know how WE roll-- we got it like that! ;)

gatekeeper 8 years, 2 months ago

Borderruffian - part of what makes downtown great is that it isn't a strip mall like west lawrence. You are correct when you say "Downtown is NOT the kind of place for sustaining surrounding neighborhoods, nor, do I think, does it want to be." Lawrence is not that large. Those of us that live in the areas around downtown don't have to go far to get to a Dillon's or a Walmart. I think it would be a disgrace to put any more chain stores downtown (Gap and Claire's are bad enough). And downtown isn't just for "sniveling little KU kids" and many of what you refer to as "sniveling little KU kids" ended up living in Lawrence permanently and making it home. Not all students are sorority and frat types. I've patronized downtown since I was a student and still love to go walk downtown, grab a beer, do some shopping and enjoy the fact it's not a strip mall like everywhere else you see. Downtown helps make Lawrence different. Those that always harp on downtown just want all of Lawrence to be like JoCo (like west Lawrence has become - so boring and yuppie). I grew up in the hell hole referred to as JoCo and still live in "old" Lawrence to avoid the cookie cutter, Whoville that is JoCo.

N. Lawrence could use a grocery store. There are lots of people on the outskirts of town that would patronize it. Someone at 11th & Kentucky can make it the 8 blocks to Dillon's on Mass.

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

You know why downtown can't support a grocery store?

Because homeless people can't afford groceries.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

@ space... (only because i am killing time right now before i actually start working again...)

Putt-Putt- Why the hell don't we have a Putt-Putt? * we had a putt putt in salina for the longest time and it just recently went out of business. it has a for sale sign in front of it right now. you wanna buy one?

Georges Pipe Shop *sounds like a stoner place to me... maybe not. but i've never been a stoner-- i know that's probably hard for y'all to believe. since i'm so down and all.

Jennings Daylight Donuts *i am starting to wonder if daylight donuts just went out of business period because the one here did too.

John's Novelties *i liked that store. bought some fake dog doo doo there once.

Carol Lee Donuts *we still have one of those. good donuts. mm mm mm

The A&W drive-in *the place that used to be our A&W drive in here in salina is now a place called jim's fried chicken. i miss A&W tho. the one that's attached to LJS just ain't the same....

The "Banana Bunch" slippery slide where the entrance to the Bluffs is now *never heard of it. probably predates when i was a student there.

Rusty's where Checker's is *i remember that place. barely. well, i remember when they tore it down and put the checkers up.

Rusty's where the Merc is *now i really do remember that place. i think i shopped there a few times. it was an IGA, right?

Potter's 66 where Wal-Green on 23rd is * i know where you're talking about but don't think it ever got my business.

Dillons at 27th and Iowa *that's the one i used to go to. i lived at park 25 apartments at the time. it reminded me of our dillons that's on crawford and broadway.

The Jayhawk Plunge swimming pool *something else that must've predated me being a student there.

Holiday Park Pool *ditto

The racist Elk's Club pool *er... they probably wouldn't have wanted my beige ass up in there even if i had known about it.

The Carriage Lamp *sounds familiar. was it a restaurant?

TG&Y *wow! i remember that place-- not just in larryville but in other places. totally forgot about that! do you remember venture?

Kief's at the Malls- they sold records *i think i only went to y'all's mall once. and then it closed shortly thereafter.

Town Crier *i remember that place too. not much about it tho.

Safeway at the Malls *safeway... did you know that they are still in operation in other parts of the country? i think the south or the east coast.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

french folks finally figure out that smoking is bad for ya?

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

LOL you are some kind of fool, spacehog! but i love ya for it! ;P

George_Braziller 8 years, 2 months ago

Spacehog you are woefully lacking in your knowledge about the history of East Lawrence and North Lawrence. There were some low-lying areas in both neighborhoods but that's not why "the rich people" built their homes in what is now Old West Lawrence.

Available building sites and a desire to separate themselves by the physical barrier of Massachusetts and the ravine that once existed between Kentucky and Tennessee played a role. It was also cultural and social snobbery.

The same thing is still happening 100+ years later. The only difference is the pysical barrier isn't a ravine, it's a street. West of Mass, west of Iowa, west of Kasold, west of . . .

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

"The rich people" build their homes in West Lawrence because that is where it's at. All the cool people live on the west side.

Did I mention I have four grocery stores within two minutes of my house? No? I guess that was the other article. It is pretty sweet.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

i remember woolworths downtown. it was an okay store-- i liked it. we had a kresge's and a walgreens (not the MODERN version, the old time kind) back when i was a kid. i think they might've both been gone by the mid 80s tho... in fact, i know they were. but the woolworth's on mass was still there. what i liked about all 3 of those places were the lunchonettes. i always thought that was so cool how you could shop and get a little something to eat for lunch, served by a kiss-my-grits type waitress.

y'all call the mass street dillons the dirty dillons? lol like that one. in fact, when i'm in town and need something from a grocery store, that's usually the one i go to.

i love older neighborhoods. like i said in a previous post, i grew up in north salina, which is one of our older neighorhoods here. it is run down but i love it. there are other parts of salina that are older but have that homeyness, quaintness about them. now, when i say "older", i am not talking about places that are completely ghetto and delapidated. i wouldn't move off of 30th and prospect in KCMO. that's an older neighborhood that you are very likely to get shot up in.

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

I didn't say rich people are cool, I said the rich build in west lawrence because that's where the cool people are.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

well my cousins live in west lawrence so i guess you're atleast partially right, bob.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

hey, speaking of stores, has anyone heard of and/or been in a store called menard's? just asking because we are getting one here in salina and i have never heard of the joint.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

hey, my cousins rent. they are looking to buy but they rent for now-- so the fact that they live in west lawrence, north of 6th, does not affect their coolness quotient.

LOL you're on fire today, space (re: your "2 mile" comment).

countrygirl 8 years, 2 months ago

Honeychild-Menards is a home improvement store. There's one in Kearney Ne that my dad likes to shop at. I've not been in it myself so I'm not sure if they compare to Lowe's or Home Depot.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

the thing that i don't understand, countrygirl, is that we have a lowes, a sutherlands, a star lumber and atleast one other lumber yard/home improvement center here in salina already! i don't see the need for another one. seems kind of pointless.

thanks for the reply, tho. :)

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 2 months ago

coolness quotient............? No comment!

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 2 months ago

coolness quotient............? No comment!

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

no comment? so you hadda say it twice?!

Liberty275 8 years, 2 months ago

No way. We need more people paying to ride the tbusses out to target. Besides, we already have a dillons on mass which is close enough. Buy a car.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

y'all lost me w/ those french anti smoking ads. inside joke, i assume....

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

Saw the French ads on Buzzfeed and was instantly distracted by the Vajazzling article.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

LOL vajazzling? mmmmkay. i don't want to know....

jehovah_bob 8 years, 2 months ago

It's what all the cool people are doing in West Lawrence.

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 2 months ago

sounds a bit painful. jewelry/rhinestones/studs/shiny metal like substances should not be applied to certain parts of the anatomy. shudders

on that note, i'm out folks. have a good one.

George_Braziller 8 years, 2 months ago

I agree completely. We were talking about the same thing but with just a slighty different perspective and time frame.

'spacehog (anonymous) says... Thanks for the history, George. I think my main point is the whole cultural and social snobbery thing, which only seems to be getting worse."

Joe Hyde 8 years, 2 months ago

Spacehog, to your excellent list of bygone places I would add:

Gran Sport - Outfitters to the Self-Propelled. 7th & Arkansas (Besides selling great hiking, cycling and canoeing gear, old George Latham was just a blast to sit and visit with. Man, I wish that guy was still around.)

Lunker Bait & Tackle. 23rd & Haskell (Best bait and tackle shop ever.)

Wilson Sporting Goods. 1000 block Mass, east side.

The two old pool halls on Mass St., opposite sides of street.

Allen's Drive-In. 23rd St. (food)

Sunset Drive-In. West 6th St. (outdoor movies)

Full Moon Cafe (in lower floor of Casbah). 800 block Mass. (The band I was in played there often.)

Don's Speed Shop. N. 2nd St. (Let Freddy Inyard turn your dog into a cold-blooded beeotch)

The old pet store in the (I think) 1000 block of (I think) New York St.

Quickie's Burgers. At north entrance to Mall Shopping Center. (Hands down the best burgers.)

Your list triggered a lot of great memories. Thanks!

Flap Doodle 8 years, 2 months ago

Hey, an orca set a town on fire in the movie with Richard Harris. Don't trust them.

puddleglum 8 years, 2 months ago

do people still shop at the 'dirty dillon's' ?

more_cowbell 8 years, 2 months ago

Happy bday there spacehog, ol' man... not too far behind you, I hit 43 in about two weeks... I'm a relative newcomer to Lawrence compared to y'all, I remember the IGA at 9th & Iowa, and I think the Wild Oats on Vermont... but what I miss more are the various movie theaters... one at 9th & Iowa, a couple others (further down on Iowa, I think...). I even got to see a few movies at the Varsity on Mass St.

Now it's either the megaplex at Southwind or Liberty Hall. Ah, progress... :-p

East and North Lawrence (NOT Downtown, I wish people would stop confusing the two, they're not the same) need a "Dollar Theater" as well as something like a Checkers or ALDI.

Not everyone has a car, and to have some neighborhoods in West Lawrence with multiple grocery stores within walking distance while at the same time with close to 100% household car ownership probably means that a measure such as "average distance driven to grocery store" is up to several times greater for North and East Lawrence.

Take into account the price of gas as well as other costs of owning a car, and add the fact that not every household will necessarily have a car, and that spells unequal access. Money buys the access, which is acceptable in a free market. Good thing we don't apply the same rule to education, health care, legal representation, or political speech... oh, snap... ;-)

gbulldog 8 years, 2 months ago

When I was growing up, groceries could be delivered to the home. Is there a store that provides that service. I know that at Sam's in Topeka, you can order online and pick it up. Also various buying clubs deliver to your home. In our busy lives, why do we need to shop in stores.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.