Neighborhood grocery to open May 5

By Lindsay Ruebens
UNC Staff Writer
The Durham VOICE

Samuel Jenkins, owner of Samuel and Sons Barber Shop, just bought a mango from a vendor passing by his shop on Angier Avenue.

Inside the future grocery store, owner Joseph Bushfan looks over the blueprint plans for the facility. TROSA Grocery is slated to open May 5. (Staff photo by Lindsay Ruebens)

“Have you ever had a mango before?” Jenkins asks. “I like trying new fruits and vegetables when I can.”

He said he hopes the community around his shop will harbor that same curiosity when TROSA Grocery opens two stores over from him at 2104 Angier Avenue on May 5.

Joseph Bushfan, owner of Joe’s Diner on Angier Avenue, also owns the 3,300-square-foot space that is morphing into the grocery store. He said that for the community’s sake, he looks forward to when the store opens.

“They’re starving for it,” Bushfan said. “It’s a forgotten area. The store’s going to add some vitality. It’s going to create such a buzz.”

Bushfan is renting the space to TROSA (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers), which helps its residents learn different lines of work. TROSA will staff all of the store’s employees.

“It’s going to make people broaden their horizons,” Jenkins said.

He said he thinks a lot of people in the community don’t eat otherwise common fruits and vegetables for a couple of reasons:  The produce isn’t readily available, and people simply aren’t accustomed to how it looks.

“You know why no one eats broccoli?” Jenkins asked. “Because it looks like weird little green trees.”

But those “weird little green trees” will soon be available to the community when TROSA Grocery opens.

The store was supposed to open April 1, but because of some setbacks, the grand opening has been bumped to the beginning of May, said project manager Wendy Noël.

And fresh produce won’t be the only products sold at the grocery.

“There’ll be a small pharmacy section,” Noël said.  “A small paper goods section, barbecue supplies – but it’s primarily food – canned vegetables, fruit, baking goods, juice, all the general dairy, eggs and bread.” Fresh meats will also be available, she said.

Owner Joseph Bushfan stands in front of some refrigerated shelves that are already labeled for freshly prepared dinners including lasagna and chicken picatta. (Staff photo by Lindsay Ruebens)

So far the facility has shelving for aisles, produces stands, a public restroom and walk-in refrigerators, sinks and counters in the back rooms.

Noël said that according to the 2000 census, there are about 13,000 people living within a mile of the new grocery store.

“I’m hoping that a lot of people who lack the transportation and access to larger supermarkets will find us a convenient option for the products they need every day,” she said.

Noël spoke about the community’s need for a grocery store.

Los Primos is a good grocery option in my opinion, but it’s almost a mile from our location,” she said.  “Our priority is just to get real food into the area.”

TROSA Grocery will not sell any alcohol or tobacco products, which was a decision Bushfan made when he decided to make the space a grocery in an effort to help uplift the community.

“They’ve got enough stuff they’re trying to overcome,” Bushfan said of future customers.

Keith Miles, 44, of Durham, said that the closest mainstream grocery store to his home is a 20-minute drive to a Food Lion, a commute which he said is very time-consuming and inconvenient.

Miles said he thinks a new grocery store would be very beneficial for the community, but as a shopper himself, has hesitations about the location.

“It depends on how the area looks around it, if it seems safe,” he said. “If a lot of people are hanging out around the front of the grocery store, then I don’t want to go in.”

But for Jenkins, the grocery store can only help revitalize the neighborhood.

“Let’s live life again,” Jenkins said. “A grocery store will make this place come alive.”