After decades of market dominance by national chains, is the mom-and-pop, neighborhood green grocer headed for a resurgence?
Sean Reynolds thinks so.
Reynolds plans to open Reynolds Grocery Store at 1813 Frankfort Avenue by May 31.
Reynolds’ model is closer to an indoor farmers’ market/Paul’s Fruit Market model than a full grocery.
Think the successful Root Cellar, which has two locations now – Old Louisville and Germantown.
Reynolds is leasing about 1,200 square feet of selling floor and a loft office at 1813 Frankfort.
Reynolds has started tenant finish work, including paint and shelving. He’s in negotiations with produce suppliers he declined to identify.
The business is self-funded, he said, declining to say how much he plans to invest to open Reynolds Grocery.
The idea to establish a local produce grocery store was sparked by a conversation with a great aunt who told him stories of how regional food was back in the day, and how close the farms and suppliers were to groceries, Reynolds said.
Since leaving his job as a manager at Heine Brothers Coffee in March, Reynolds has been searching for the right location.
After failing to nail down a lease farther east in a former UPS Store at 2337 Frankfort, the Massachusetts’ native found his current location where he plans to create a community-based business for the Clifton/Frankfort area grocery shoppers.
Reynolds said three elements figured into his choosing the location:
• Limited options for groceries in Clifton. The nearest is a Kroger on Lower Brownsboro Road, about two miles away.
• A lot of younger people are settling in the Clifton area, people who are trending away from junk food toward healthier eating habits.
• Clifton has an increasingly affluent population with a high percentage of families – an urban neighborhood where people are more likely to patronize a small retailer.
The return of the mom and pop shops around Louisville is evidence that more and more of our entrepreneurs are catching on to the economics of regionalism.
Reynolds expects Whole Foods will be his biggest competition, but he believes his unbranded, regionally grown crops will appeal to the area.
Reynolds supply will come throughout the region. In the last few months, he’s said he’s established relationships through networking at local farmer’s markets.
“I know good produce,” said Reynolds, “and I’ll drive to get the best squash if I have to”:
I want people to know me, and I want them to know it’s not just business, and that’s how it used to be. It was the staple to have Bob the Butcher and Tom the Milk Man … I want to be Sean the Grocer.
Starting out, Reynolds will be the only employee, though he hopes to add help later this summer.
A new grocery would be the most recent development in Clifton.
The Silver Dollar upscale saloon/restaurant opened just west of the future grocery at 1761 Frankfort in 2012 and has drawn SRO crowds every since.
The $1 million renovation of Flats on Frankfort apartments just east at 1911 Frankfort dramatically upgraded the 40-unit property earlier this year.