Is downtown Dayton finally getting a grocery store? Here’s why it’s stupid there’s not one

Ask nearly anyone who lives in or near downtown about things they want, one thing pops up time and time again — a real flipping grocery store.

Dorothy Lane Market (DLM)Angi Beverly stocks oranges in a display at the Springboro store. DLM and the grocery empire of James Bonamino (Jungle Jims) began as fruit stands and have grown into destination grocery shopping experiences. Norman Mayne CEO if DLM markets, now with three locations, and Jungle Jim, now with two locations, have known each other for about 30 years. They are kindred spirits in the fight for survival in the grocery war.JIM WITMER / STAFF

Angi Beverly stocks oranges in a display at the Springboro Dorothy Lane Market. (JIM WITMER / STAFF)


Imagine a real, bonafide place to buy more than just the basics without a trip across town.

People went wild in 2012 when Constantino’s Market of Cleveland considered setting up shop in the former Greyhound bus terminal at South Jefferson and East Fifth streets.

The “golden downtown grocery store carrot” is once again dangling in front of our faces.

A grocery store is part of the Miller Valentine Group proposed $153 million multi-use development project at what is now the Montgomery County Fairgrounds and occupied by the Montgomery County Agricultural Society.

Miller Valentine told the Dayton Daily News in May that it is closing in on the money — $18 million in private and public funds — to buy the fairground property and 70-acre parcel in  Brookville for the Montgomery County Agricultural Society.

The plan sounds awesome, but who knows if or when it will happen.

Whole Foods Dayton (Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)

Whole Foods Dayton (Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)

All I know is that as a near-downtown resident, I am sick of there not being a real full grocery store nearby.

I am not asking for Shangri-La, but it would be swell if downtown had a place that sold Gouda AND more than one deli ham option.

The biggest argument against there not being one is that downtown doesn’t have enough people.

About 42,000 people work downtown and in nearby neighborhoods — Oregon District, St. Anne’s Hill, South Park, University of Dayton area, Wright Dunbar, etc., according to the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan.

Another 20,000 live in or near downtown, and there are 40,000 college students.

It is silly to say those people don’t collectively deserve a decent, decent-sized grocery store like I’ve seen in even smaller communities.

Downtown is unfortunately not alone when it comes to a shortage of good grocery shopping options.

And as my colleague Josh Sweigart recently pointed out in his piece “Rich Market, Poor Market,” a lot of people have it so bad that downtown residents should almost feel bad that we complain.

As WHIO’s Cherly McHenry reported in May, the Dayton Metropolitan area ranks worst in Ohio and ninth in the country in terms of food hardship. In other words, access to a full-service grocery store or funds to pay for food.

Downtown at least has the 2nd Street Market, Kroger on Wayne Avenue and the Stop-N-Save Foods at 36 W. Third St. Definite positives.


Whole Foods Dayton (Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)

Whole Foods Dayton (Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)

But while Costco Warehouse, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, Trader Joe’s, Earth Fare, Kroger, Dorthy Lane Market and others fight it out for hearts, minds and dollar bills south of downtown, there is almost little love for Dayton’s core.

Someone build us a grocery store, please.

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