Walking out of the Brockton Mini-Market last week, carrying several bags between them, David and Anna Briggs explained that they shop for groceries at the convenience store out of necessity.
Their neighborhood in the north end of downtown Brockton hasn’t had a supermarket in two decades.
Without a car, access to stores outside the neighborhood is a problem. But soon it won’t be, and the Briggs were relieved at the news.
Vicente’s grocery, a local, family-owned business, will expand next spring into a 30,000-square-foot space on Pleasant Street, occupying a prominent corner that housed an abandoned warehouse for years, something the city’s mayor described as a “black hole.”
Vicente’s Tropical Grocery will anchor the $20 million development, along with a new primary care clinic for the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.
The supermarket will be within walking distance for people in the neighborhood, including many elderly residents who don’t have cars, David Briggs said. A senior housing complex is across Pleasant Street from the site.
“It was empty. It was an eyesore,” he said of the former building. “It’s going to be something productive for that spot.”
The project is moving forward through federal tax credits and private financing, as well as with tax incentives from the city of Brockton.
The neighborhood, now served by small convenience stores and store-front markets, is at least 2 miles from the nearest full-service supermarket, said Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter. The building being renovated for the clinic and supermarket, originally an A&P and later a Star Market, was turned into a warehouse some 25 years ago, Carpenter said, and then was shut down.
Along the sides of the construction site, business owners say they are not sure what to expect from the new development. An estimated 100 people will work on the site, and in the businesses when they open. Even the Brockton Mini-Market owner, Mohammad Khan, is optimistic. He doesn’t view the new market as a competitor.
“Not really,” he said. “That’s a supermarket. We’re a convenience store.” If 200 people are employed across the street, he reasoned, they may want cigarettes, lottery tickets, and other items. “If they spend $1 here, that’s $200,” Khan said.
For the Vicente family, the expansion is another business milestone.
Vicente’s Tropical Grocery opened in a 1,000-square-foot retail space in Brockton 20 years ago, then expanded to its existing store on South Main Street, said founder Manuel Vicente. The business has a loyal following, carrying tropical produce and specialty breads and dishes favored by Caribbean, Brazilian, and Cape Verdean immigrants.
Vivian Andrade, who is Cape Verdean, said she shops now at Vicente’s but lives in the Pleasant Street neighborhood. She said she expects many will shop at the store, as long as its prices compete with a Market Basket that is 2 miles away.
Jason Barbosa, whose father began the business, will manage the new location.
He said he hoped the new commercial investment in the neighborhood would lead to more housing development.
“It’s an honor for our family to be the ones to lead the way,” Barbosa said at the groundbreaking ceremony.