Downtown grocer

The free market dictates most of the business successes and failures we encounter on a daily basis. If you can find a niche, raise the capital and answer demand, you might succeed. If you can’t, you’ll fail.

As reported Saturday by the Review-Journal’s Benjamin Spillman, the family operating the newly opened White Cross Market recognizes the risk in launching a business. “We have got all our money in this basket. From a financial standpoint, it is make or break,” said Rimon Hirmiz, a partner in the store with his father and two cousins.

But they’ve done their due diligence. The market is located at Las Vegas and Oakey boulevards, a downtown area long underserved by grocers. Smith’s, Vons and Albertsons are not nearby despite the proximity of historic neighborhoods with longtime middle- and upper-middle-class residents, and younger newcomers in new condominium high rises.

That niche prompted the family to invest $1 million renovating the property. Their goal is to provide a variety of items that appeal to the upper crust in the area, along with nonperishables found in your average grocery store. And the family is serious about trying to give downtown residents their first legitimate grocery shopping option in a long time, having signed a 31-year lease on the 6,200-square-foot space.

Now it’s time for the free market to do its work. The partners want to provide a valuable and needed service, but they will rightly seek a return on their investment — as quickly as possible. That’s how this process should go.

Getting a grocery store in this neighborhood — or any underserved area — shouldn’t involve local government pressuring or subsidizing a company to build where it doesn’t want to build. Rather, it should involve a private entity willing to take a financial risk to reap the reward. It appears this grocer has a good chance to succeed, particularly with the continuing revitalization of downtown. But if residents decide to continue driving miles to shop at bigger supermarkets, that doesn’t mean it’s time for government to step in to help fill the void. It simply means that the market has spoken — and the market’s answer is the only one that matters.

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