published Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Neighbors press need for grocer

  • photo
    Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press -- Gloria Griffith talks about the hardships of living on the west side and being so far from a store. Residents from Chattanooga's west side meet to discuss the community's desire for a new store to cater to their needs Thursday morning. The residents pointed out that for the west side's population, many of whom are elderly or disabled, the closest place to buy groceries is a three mile round trip, usually made by foot.

Westside residents will march three miles today from their neighborhood to Buehler's Food Market downtown and back to show their need for a grocery store and their ability to support one. "We want the city to help us find a store," said Gloria Griffith, a Westside resident and elder of Renaissance Presbyterian Church.

If the city can subsidize Volkswagen, it can supplement the Westside getting a grocery store, added her husband, the Rev. Leroy Griffith. Westside residents worked with Chattanooga Organized for Action to set up the march. The groceries they purchase at Buehler's today will be donated to the Angel Food Ministry at Renaissance Presbyterian Church, said Chris Brooks, senior organizer with Chattanooga Organized for Action.

The community-based advocacy group was one of the leaders of this year's failed recall of Mayor Ron Littlefield. Buehler's is the closest grocery store to the Westside community, and the march will allow "non-Westside residents to walk in the shoes of the people who live here," said Brooks.

The Westside includes 3,500 residents in eight low-income housing sites: College Hill Courts, Boynton Terrace Apartments, The Overlook, Dogwood Manor, Gateway Towers and Jaycee Towers. About a third of the residents are older than 50 and several are in wheelchairs.

"I don't live in the Westside, but we're all a part of one city," Brooks said. "I don't want to live in a city where I know the elderly have to go three miles in their wheelchair in the cold to get the groceries they need."

City officials understand the need, but they can't force a private business to locate there, said Littlefield spokesman Richard Beeland.

"It doesn't matter how much money you give someone to locate; if they're not going to be successful in that location, then they are not going to come there. It's unfortunate, but it's reality," Beeland said.


What: Westside residents food march

When: Noon today

Where: From old Dollar General store, 1221 Grove St., to Buehler's Market, 429 Market St., and back.

Information: Chris Brooks, 653-2393 or www.CHATTACTION.ORG

Charles Morton, owner of Buehler's Food Markets, said he's not against the march and he's donating food to the Renaissance Church, but as a businessman he understands the difficulty of getting a grocery store in the Westside.

Warehouses don't supply small grocery stores, he said.

"These warehouses are from Nashville, Atlanta, Alabama, and these trucks can't run up here without you selling a whole lot of groceries," he said. "If we didn't buy 30,000 groceries a week they wouldn't even stop here."

Westside residents argue that they can afford to support a grocery store in their community. Buehler's is a tough trek for people in wheelchairs or without cars, residents say.

"You can walk there," said Leroy Griffith. "But how much can you carry?"

It gets even more complicated when the walker is a single mom trying to control children while carrying groceries, Griffith said.

"We don't want people to feel sorry for us," said Westside resident Betty Bishop. "We just want a store."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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gdh66 said...

It is not the job of the government at any level to subsidize a grocery store. It is a service just like a gas station is.

I would suggest some of these folks strike up some of the entrepreneurial spirit and form a company and make their own grocery store. They have identified a problem, the first step in a decision making process, now they need to identify the steps to solve it. Government is not the answer. It just perpetuates dependency.

Don't be a slave! The master provided food, shelter, and medicine when he wanted to. Make your own opportunities!

December 18, 2010 at 9 a.m.
harrystatel said...

Where are the churches? Where are the millions of dollars from the Catholic, Episcopalian, Baptist, AME, and all the other churches who promote "social justice" but want the taxpayers to pay for it?

Do we need another "Six Flags Over Jesus" church with Jumbo-trons, coffee shops, indoor gyms, broadcast networks, TV hucksters posing as God's emissaries, Ponzi schemes to get-to-heaven, Crystal Cathedrals and giant prayer towers, toupee-wearing and comb-over con-men with their pink-haired, spray-painted, jewelry-bedecked buffoon wives begging for money for God (but make the check out to us)?

Or can you offer charity from your own heart, help your neighbors who are struggling to do better, and be kind without the artificial trappings of organized religion?

"I'd rather have a pair of hands that work than a thousand lips that pray." That still applies.

Harry Statel

December 18, 2010 at 10:56 a.m.
nucanuck said...

The West Side has insufficient population to support a grocer. The solution lies in better transportation alternatives,such as bus service.

December 18, 2010 at 11:17 a.m.
DigTheFig said...

Maybe if companies thought that they would be safe, they might put a store in that area. Those neighborhoods are dangerous, filled with people on welfare thinking that they are entitled to free stuff all the time. I know, I deal with them on a daily basis. Get a job, get a car. Go shopping like everyone else. The nearest small shopping center for me is 5 miles away and the nearest large store is about 9 miles away from my home, but I'm not organizing a walk. You want a store near you, prove that the people there will be safe by acting civilized.

December 18, 2010 at 11:31 a.m.

I can' believe these people were in on the recall to out Mayor Littlefield. Don't they know the ones who started this recall group are the same ones who wanted to run people like them out of the city? The ones who wanted nothing to do with the poor, minorities of the city. From the very start they attacked the mayor over the issues he wanted to implement to help the poor and minorities of the city? Do these people ever do any investigating on their own before signing on the dotted line?

My message to black people: Stop whining! Roll up your sleeves and work together. The mayor can't force a store to come into your neighborhood. Furthermore, some of you look as if you could use a good walk down to Buehler's Market. It's great exercise. So stop standing like turkeys in a rain storm with your noses turned upward about to drown unless someone comes along and pull you out of the storm. You are America's original entrepenuers. How did you allow yourselves to be duped into this present attitude that someone has to always come along and do something for you? You're better than that! Now, GET UP AND GET MOVING! Stop with the whining. No one is feeling sorry for you. In tough times everyone is suffering.

December 18, 2010 at 11:37 a.m.
fairmon said...

Some grocery store has an opportunity to increase volume. Provide these folks with a brochure picturing the products the store has and the price. Pick up the brochures weekly with the items needed checked and the money to purchase and deliver those goods. A small fee to cover pick up and delivery would be appropriate.

There are people in this area that worked for years at low wages doing work for the wealthy and doing menial task they can no longer do. They are older like many in our city. They may have some undesirables in their neighborhoods but they have little choice regarding where they live and it is sad the fear some experience living in those areas.

Where are the churches? I think harrystate captured that in his post. They are too busy socializing in their cafeterias and private gym to recognize there are people in need. The "super churches" are too busy catering to their well to do members to recognize there are those less fortunate.

The failure of the churches, charities and citizens in general results in government justifying and confiscating from citizens in the form of taxes money to assist those they select and that makes them popular and gets them votes. Where is Carta? Is the number sufficient to make a scheduled run once or twice a week to a grocery store that would probably help pay for the trip if the number and the volume is great enough to support a neighborhood store.

December 18, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.
fairmon said...


There were over 15,000 citizens willing to recall Littlefield and I should have participated and provided at least 5-7000 more valid signatures, that was my failure. He is a weak and poor manager with skewered priorities. The tax and fee increases were not necessary and could have been avoided without adverse impact on the cities growth. Providing details here of how that is possible is a waste of time.

December 18, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.
Allison12 said...

Homeless and needy were supposed to be served by a one stop shop, huh emergency purchase of three quaters of a million in March 2006, and still nothing.

December 18, 2010 at 4:35 p.m.
discomusic said...

We always hear about the Westside community,remember they had a Dollar General store there in the community and it closed and has not reopened. I live in the East Chattanooga community & we too do not have a local grocery store and we have lot's of senior citizens,handicapped ect. here as well as other community's do,sadly the Westside area is a dangerous area as is my own and grocery stores are just not willing to open a store here or there,due to the crime rate and shoplifting that will kill any and all profits,as far as Beulers Market they should be ashamed of themselves for ripping folks off with their high prices and horribly rude people who work there, not to mention a very very old store in bad shape they take advantage of folks who have no transportation or elderly with skyhigh prices much higher than elswhere,Westside i feel your pain,but East Chattanooga only has Sunnytown,which has only empty shleves and sells beer and cigaretts their only profit margin

December 18, 2010 at 5:16 p.m.
rick1 said...

Major grocery stores will not locate into the Westside area because it often costs more to deliver goods and services in low-income neighborhoods. Higher insurance costs and higher costs for various security precautions, due to higher rates of crime and vandalism, are just some of the systemic reasons that get ignored by those seeking an explanation in terms of personal intentions.

December 18, 2010 at 6:47 p.m.
mrredskin said...

if you owned a corporation, would you want your store located in the middle of all those areas???

didn't think so.

December 18, 2010 at 6:56 p.m.
chioK_V said...

discomusic shame shame on you!! My elderly mom has shopped at Buehler's Market for decades. I know because I'm the one who often takes her there to shop. I've also done a little shopping there myself with my mom. No one has ever been rude to either of us. In fact, they've treated us like old family. The prices are quite reasonable, even cheap, compared to many of the major food chains in Chattanooga.

Maybe this is some ploy to get the market shut down. God knows, there's been quite a number who've done what they could to get Buehler's away from downtown. Those po' folks coming to shop there doesn't fit in with the planned affluent decor for that part of town. So the best thing to do is to bad mouth the store the same way they bad mouthed that Mosaic gathering for young people until the city took action and shut them down.

Those individuals explointing these poor people's situation because they dislike the mayor should be a shamed of themselves. They're the same ones who wanted nothing to do with the poor like these individuals. In fact, they wanted to round them all up along with the homeless and make them out of sight out of mind. All of you exploiting these individuals should be ashamed of yourselves! You have even less love for them than you do for the mayor and the homeless you wanted to round up and ship to points ounknown.

December 19, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
chrisbrooks said...

As an organizer for Chattanooga Organized for Action I would like to invite anyone who is in any way skeptical of our mission to serve the West Side community and people to come out and work with us. If you do not believe that we care about cultivating a society in which the last are made first, a society in which the afflicted are made comfortable, then come and spend time with us. I would also say this: all of you who are making racist, classist comments and generalizations about the West Side community and the people who live there would be put to utter shame by the simple experience of coming out and commuting with your fellow Chattanoogans. It is obviously much easier to cast aspersions and blame the victim than it is to offer constructive solutions and commit yourself to serving others. It is that much harder to see things from their point of view, I wish you all had come to the march and walked a mile in their shoes.

December 19, 2010 at 6:32 p.m.
fftspam said...

"cultivating a society in which the last are made first" "a society in which the afflicted are made comfortable"

WHAT??? And is going to pay for your agenda?

chrisbrooks.... who puts money in your wallet?

December 20, 2010 at 3:01 a.m.
chrisbrooks said...

I work construction, hard labor, everyday. Then I spend an additional 20 to 30 hours a week volunteering FOR FREE in service to communities like the West Side. We don't need money, we need people, we need solidarity, we need will. That is all.

December 20, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.
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