New TROSA Grocery is a store with a purpose

Phillip Ange, a regular shopper at TROSA Grocery, purchases groceries after getting off work. (Staff photo by Jennifer Kim)

By Jennifer Kim
UNC Staff Writer
The Durham Voice

Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) opened a grocery store at 2104 Angier Ave. It serves a dual purpose for helping residents of the program and residents of the Northeast Central Durham community.

TROSA helps anyone with an addiction through a cost-free comprehensive program. The grocery store’s grand opening on May 13 marked the beginning of a grocery store accessible and more convenient to people with limited transportation.

“I think people have a difficult access to food in this area, especially fresh food. Transportation is difficult to the nearest supermarkets, said store manager, Wendy Noel, 27, from Raleigh. “It is not a big enough population to attract a large supermarket. And it is difficult for the small businesspeople to stock fresh food,” she said.

Residents of the program apply to work in one of several different TROSA businesses, which include a moving company, lawn care and maintenance, a furniture store and a grocery store.

“Each One, Teach One” is the motto of the program, which has been helping addicts since 1994. According to their website, TROSA is the largest residential therapeutic community in North Carolina. Residents live in group housing, learn and grow together within the program.

Residents support each other as well as teach others who are new to the program. “We have different therapeutic tools that are used here, one of which is group interactions we have,” said one of the workers.

Franky is one of two workers for the week along with Noel. A third worker is added to the weekend schedule when Noel is not there.

The residents are not paid, but learn work skills such as customer service and how to develop a professional work ethic.

“TROSA residents in general work harder than anyone I have ever met,” said Noel. She said that residents who seek help through a two-year program know a long and hard struggle is ahead of them as opposed to 30-day programs.

Franky said he hopes to become a TROSA Scholar after his two years are complete. The Scholars program offers an education at a local university or college.

He aspires to learn computer science and programming at a local college after his program. Ten years from now Franky said he hopes he’ll “still be with TROSA and have a college degree.”

The grocery store is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Noel said it offers the most reasonable prices possible, but ordering in smaller quantities limits their ability to offer chain store prices. She said TROSA is working on getting their prices more in line with larger stores.

Franky said customers tell him TROSA Grocery is better than the other convenience stores in the area. “They said we’re a lot cleaner, our prices are better and they like our service,” he said.

TROSA grocery store is located two stores down from Joe’s Diner. Some of their produce is from the TROSA garden, such as basil. On Fridays the store sells pastries and baked goods from a local Mexican bakery.

After a customer left the store, a worker said, “You know what we forgot to say? Bananas are on sale 29 cents a pound. Can you believe that?”