Jan 16, 2024 - News

Ask Axios: Why is there no grocery store in Manchester?

Illustration of an otter with a word balloon with a question mark in it coming out of its mouth.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

We're back with another installment of our occasional series, Ask Axios. You ask us anything, and we try to get it answered.

Question: "I live in Manchester, and have been wondering why there is no grocery store in the Southside? Especially with so many new apartments being built —t o me, it makes smart business sense to build a grocery store that we would all use?" — Reader David G.

Answer: Ah, the age old question: When the 🤬 will Manchester get a grocery store? And the answer is, no one knows.

  • Population density — or the lack of it — has been the perennial hold up to attracting grocery chains, up until (and including) last year, BizSense reported.
  • This is despite the neighborhood population tripling in the past decade, per the Times-Dispatch.

Flashback: Beginning in 2020, a local developer spent the better part of two years trying to attract one for a project at 201 W. Commerce St. before crying uncle in July and putting the parcel up for sale.

  • "Basically the feedback I've gotten is Manchester needs to hit a critical mass of population. Until that happens, grocers are a little gun-shy," developer Brent Graves told BizSense.

Yes, but: Some locals have suggested the lack of a Manchester grocery store has less to do with the number of people who live there and more to do with the type of people.

Grocery chains tend to like families because they mean higher sales, the Times-Dispatch reported.

  • In Manchester, over 90% of households are "non-family," that is single people with or without roommates.
  • And the per-capita income in Manchester is $50,000 a year — higher than much of South Richmond, but not nearly as high as the Western part of South Richmond, per the RTD.

The bottom line: Manchester will likely one day get a grocery store. Just not yet.

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