Here’s Why The First Black-Owned Grocery Store In Compton Is Still Thriving
By Rachel George
Since 2017, Kia Patterson has independently owned and operated the first black-owned grocery store in Compton, Grocery Outlet, providing organic produce at an affordable price in the underprivileged neighborhood.
The USDA named Compton a “food desert” in 2013, referring to the city’s insufficient access to affordable, healthy foods, compared to other neighborhoods. The executive director of the Community Health Councils Lark Galloway-Gilliam once called the population “malnourished,” referring to the boatload of local fast-food restaurants. He works to encourage healthy policies in South Los Angeles. “What we don’t have is healthy, fresh, crisp fruits and vegetables. In its place, we see processed foods,” he said.
Residents complained of having to drive miles to other areas just to buy fruits and veggies that weren’t “rotten, unripe or flavorless.” Despite the implementation of weekly farmer’s markets and other health food events, Compton still wasn’t getting enough until Patterson came along.
Grocery Outlet guarantees their customers 100% satisfaction, by hiring local friendly staff, and organic products at a cost of 60% less than traditional grocery stores. The 38-year-old entrepreneur and Compton native took ownership of the store after completing training with the company and developing a business plan that offered jobs to her family and the community.
“I have my cousins working here with me, my brother, my niece, and nephew. That’s really encouraging and with most companies, you’re not allowed to do that,” Patterson told LA Sentinel. “They really care. A lot of other companies are primarily about money and profit. They lose the people portion of the business and that’s the main purpose of Grocery Outlet. You’re able to work with your family.”
Her background and experience came from working for another grocery franchise, Smart & Final. While there, she was recruited by Grocery Outlet to help expand their grocery chain with 100 additional stores in Los Angeles. I’d like to think her hands-on approach and willingness to work right alongside her staff contributed her ownership and why the store has still thrived over the last two years.
Patterson supports local youth and education and gives back to her community through fundraisers for various schools and helping college students establish a low-cost food pantry with El Camino Compton Center.
“It’s not only about providing good-quality food. What I’ve always been about is giving back. It’s about playing that role, helping with fundraising with schools, and being there not just to say, ‘Hey, come get your groceries from me,’ but also helping out the community,” she told Civil Eats.
Visit Pattern and Grocery Outlet in Compton at 2175 West Rosecrans Avenue, open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.