Urban grocery store defies the shopping status quo

Urban grocery store defies the shopping status quo

Urban grocery store defies the shopping status quo
August 30
15:22 2017

Meandering through aisles of flashy deals competing against each other and large shopping carts twisting through the narrow walkways, grocery shopping can quickly turn into a stressful necessity of living.

But at the Blue Bag Grocery, you’re greeted by a friendly face behind the counter playing upbeat music on his laptop, a concise collection of food and other products and a stress free shopping experience.

Located on 503 S. Locust St., Blue Bag Grocery has become the downtown community’s one-stop shop for quick grocery runs at a convenient location—right in their backyard.

UNT alumnus Jacob Moses, 25, opened the store earlier this month after noticing a deficit in “urban groceries” in Denton neighborhoods.

“I believe people should do life, including grocery shopping, in the neighborhood in which they live,” Moses said. “Sure, there’s monetary benefits, save money on gas, car maintenance, but most important, there’s infinite social benefits. You can share a smile or wave with fellow pedestrians, or meet a partner as you lie on your back beneath a tall tree in your neighborhood park.”

The small store prides itself on stocking classic name brands along with lesser-known alternative vegan and vegetarian options.

Moses said he listens intensely to customer requests and adds products to the store immediately to accommodate the locals.

Though its space takes up a modest 630 square feet, the close quarters is very intentional to the store’s purpose.

“Think about it, we usually buy the same 15 items any time we’re at the store, yet we’re in these overwhelming 50,000 square feet, minimum, spaces,” he said. “Forget that. Come buy cool stuff in an enjoyable environment, checkout quickly [and] then go home and enjoy your goodies.”

Career Center employee Corey Davidson, 40, is one of the many local customers who enjoys the refreshingly brisk pace of shopping, even though it’s not his primary choice of grocery shops.

“[It’s] not really a grocery store replacement as it is a great place to grab a few essentials and snacks without having to deal with a big store and busy parking lot,” Davidson said.

The store also offers a free candy bar with the purchase of tampons, aligning with Moses’ belief that tampons are a “medical necessity” which should not be taxed.

“We’re doing what’s right—nothing praiseworthy,” Moses said. “Change doesn’t come from candy bars, it comes from legislation. However, in the meantime, we’re overjoyed to gift our female patrons with something sweet to eat.”

To further serve the community, the store also encourages customers to purchase blue tote bags, automatically putting them in the Blue Bag program which donates 5 cents from every transaction to a neighborhood service of the customer’s choosing.

The choices include Keep Denton Beautiful, Serve Denton, Our Daily Bread and the Denton Community Health Clinic.

“Blue Bag Grocery serves and supports Denton on a neighborhood level,” Moses said. “Yes, that includes groceries, but it also includes supporting the most important elements of a neighborhood, [which are] the services that should serve and support everyone equally.”

Moses’ friend Zachary C. Simpson, 24, was one of the construction workers who helped put the store together, and he is also a big fan of the store itself.

“I absolutely love the store, [and] wish I could be more involved to be completely honest,” Simpson said. “I feel it is a great addition to the downtown area, especially with the lack of a convenient grocery store in close walking distance with all the apartments.”

While both frequent and sporadic customers fluctuate in and out of the store, Moses believes that his grocery store is the solution that local neighborhoods have been looking for.

“My heart is for downtown Denton and its residents,” Moses said. “And now, instead of driving to a supermarket because you’re craving Halo Top, then waiting in a 20-person self-checkout line with your one or two items, the goodies are now a brief walk, bike or car ride away.”

Featured Image: Blue Bag Grocery is located at 503 S Locust st. The grocery store opened for business on Aug. 7. Cameron Roe

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Kayla Henson

Kayla Henson

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