Douglass Businesses Getting Creative To Make Up For Loss Of Town Grocery Store

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Monday, June 14, 2013

Reagan's Unique Boutique in Douglass lives up to its name now more than ever. Among the purses and necklaces in the store, you'll find chicken and beef in a meat freezer.

"A lot of people come into the boutique and say, 'You sell meat? That's a little odd,'" Douglass' Jenni Leis O'Crowley said.

It is a bit odd, but the owner of the boutique, who happens to be the wife of the newly-elected mayor, says it's important the meat is available locally.

The city's only grocery store closed last October. On-going intense efforts to bring in a chain grocery store have floundered, city leaders said. Company representatives have told city leaders the town of 1,700 just isn't big enough.

"There are not enough shoppers so they (the companies) don't want to spend the money," Douglass Mayor Larry Ramsey said.

Having meats, produce, and other groceries available in town is especially important given the town's large elderly population.

"We're trying to get the things they need so they don't have to leave town," Ramsey said.

That was a part of the reason Reagan's boutique put in the meat freezer last November. They Walnut Valley Meat comes in from El Dorado.

Down the street, the Family Dollar has added numerous grocery items to its shelves and the gas station convenience store is trying to add fresh produce.

"I think we are trying to come together as a community to offer what we can with the space we have," said Misi Mattix, the manager of the Fastrip convenience store.

The nearest grocery stores are in Augusta and Rose Hill. Both of those are at least a 10-mile drive.

"You don't realize how much it's missed until it's gone," Mattix said.

People in town say with the closing of the grocery store, some are nervous more and more businesses might close. A gas station has already closed.

If that trend continues, they worry some people might leave town.

City leaders came together in March to discuss the challenges facing the community, how they can showcase the community to attract new homeowners, and some ways they could work together to promote growth in all areas of the community.

Leaders and business owners say they hope by pulling together, promoting a 'shop local' mentality, and getting creative, they can convince shops and people to stick around.

"Hopefully we can keep everybody happy," Ramsey said. "It's pretty hard to do but we're going to try."

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