Another opportunity to support a Black business — June 2017

Posted by Jim Clingman June 17th, 2017

This week’s article is a follow up to my Food Desert article. One week after writing it I learned about a young sister in the Los Angeles area, Compton to be exact, who had bought a supermarket. Kia Patterson, the first Black in L.A. to do so, now is the independent owner-operator of a Grocery Outlet store that, in essence, presents yet another opportunity for us to support a Black owned supermarket. Question is: Will we do it?

I called Ms. Patterson immediately after watching a video interview of her inside her store; I was thoroughly impressed. After speaking to her I contacted her marketing/PR rep and suggested ways I could help get the word out about Ms. Patterson’s venture. This article is part of that effort, in addition to my asking radio talk show personalities to feature her as a guest. Even those of us who do not live in L.A. or its surrounding cities should be willing to cheer Ms. Patterson on and share her information with others across this nation. Hers is one of the examples I wrote about in my previous article; maybe similar ventures by Black people will come from this latest foray into the food industry, and this time it will be sustained; I truly hope so.

Kia Patterson was born in Gardena and raised in Lynwood, both located in California. She has been in the grocery industry since the age of 17, starting as the “service clerk” for a well-known supermarket. Her career moved very fast and was later promoted to store manager. After that, she had the opportunity to join the corporate office for a special project, which resulted in a promotion to a Store Systems Specialist. Kia’s dedication and professionalism did not go unnoticed and, after having spent seventeen years in her first grocery job, Grocery Outlet approached with the opportunity to become an independent owner-operator.

Kia joined the Grocery Outlet family in June 2016. She trained at their Long Beach location and was very grateful to have received training by two very experienced operators. On April 1, 2017, Kia made her dream of becoming an entrepreneur a reality when she became the independent owner-operator of the Compton location.

I know the demographics have changed for Compton over recent years, but that should not be used as an excuse not to support Kia’s store. Maggie and John Anderson drove 36 miles round trip, from Oak Park to Southside Chicago to support a Black owned grocery store. I drove a similar distance to support a Black owned dry cleaners in Cincinnati, Ohio. Call us crazy, but we believe as W.E.B. Dubois said, “We must cooperate or we are lost. Ten million people who join in intelligent self-help can never be long ignored or mistreated. The mass of the Negroes must learn to patronize business enterprises conducted by their own race, even at some disadvantage.”

Kia immediately connected with the community of Compton because it is the neighboring city to Lynwood (where Kia grew up) and started donating food items on a weekly basis to some of the local churches. Kia has also partnered with El Camino Compton Center to launch their food pantry to help less fortunate students with food items. Most recently, Kia began to help the community learn how to incorporate healthy and affordable eating habits, by hosting “smart shopping” store tours where a registered nutritionist guided shoppers to identify nutritious food choices.

In addition to these initiatives and to further contribute to the advancement of her community, during the month of May and June, Kia has partnered with the Magic Johnson Foundation to conduct a fundraising competition to benefit four elementary schools in the Compton Unified School District. As a result, the schools will receive cash prizes that will be used in different educational activities. And for those looking for healthier food choices, Grocery Outlet stores like Kia’s offer more than 500 Natural, Organic, Specialty, and Healthy items.

Now here is an appropriate response to Kia’s business venture and her efforts to “give back” to the community: Dr. Rosie Milligan, nationally acclaimed author, local entrepreneur, community activist, and self-proclaimed “Mayor of South Central L.A.,” will revise her “Get on the bus” campaign, which she implemented in past years to take groups of customers to Black businesses to shop. Dr. Rosie will now organize groups to visit Patterson’s store and do their weekly shopping.

I am very excited about this news, and I want to see this business grow from the support of Black consumers as well as all consumers—the same way Black people support everyone else’s stores. Let’s flip the script on the mantra, the song, and the movie, “Straight outta Compton,” by making our refrain, “Straight into Compton” to support a Black business.

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