East Temple residents continue to express a need and desire for a grocery store in the Ferguson Park or Crestview neighborhoods despite a recommendation from a Chicago-based consultant against such a venture.
“There’s a strong need for a grocery store on Temple’s east side,” resident Samantha Tate said. “We need a store in the neighborhood that is easily accessible by walking. There really isn’t much in the way of a big grocery store for East-siders at all without going miles.”
Tricia Maddux-Corbitt agreed with Tate, although she doesn’t live in East Temple.
“I don’t live there, but I do drive through the East side daily,” Maddux-Corbitt said. “It would be nice to have an option to stop through on my way to work without driving up (State Highway) 36 or Adams.”
Erin Smith, assistant Temple city manager, said surveys and discussions with East Temple residents by the city’s “Love Where You Live” team have consistently shown a desire for a supermarket in the Ferguson Park and Crestview neighborhoods.
But according to Hunden Strategic Partners — a real estate development consultant — there’s not enough people living in East Temple today to attract grocery stores such as H-E-B, Kroger, Publix or Trader Joe’s.
Two possible store sites were identified in a 2022 report — one at the intersection of Avenue H and 24th Street in the Ferguson Park neighborhood, the other on Avenue H just west of Loop 363. A grocery store on either of these sites would be the closest food market for the area that encompasses nearly all of the East side and a portion of the North side that’s east of 8th Street.
East Temple demographics
According to Hunden’s report: “Within this boundary there is a population of 12,198 residents.” Grocery companies generally require about 20,000 residents before they would consider locating a store in that area. They also require a median household income in a neighborhood of $40,000 to $75,000 or higher.
East Temple falls significantly short in both population and median household income, according to the report.
While the median household income in the Temple and Belton trade area as a whole is $56,313, the numbers for East Temple are almost half that. According to Hunden’s report, the median household income for East Temple is $30,373.
The East side neighborhoods are currently served by La Michoacana Meat Market, a chain of Hispanic-themed grocery stores located across Texas. The store has a wide selection of fresh meats, produce, packaged goods and an in-store taqueria.
La Michoacana, 118 N. 16th St., is the only full-service grocery store in East Temple.
Also on the east side are two independent meat markets and a Dollar General, which sells prepackaged food items.
One of the meat markets — Kerley’s — has been in Temple for 98 years. The current owner, Lynette Talasek, said an H-E-B-style grocery store in East Temple would crush her business.
“H-E-B could help provide groceries at a lower cost to small businesses who sell groceries in smaller communities and neighborhoods,” she said. “But if you put a large grocery store on the East side and small markets might as well shut their doors.”
The Hunden report said the Adams Avenue H-E-B is only two and a half miles from the east side neighborhoods, and grocers typically view a three-mile radius as their customer base.
Aldi’s, the South Temple H-E-B, Walmart and Sam’s Club are at or just under four miles from Ferguson Park and Crestview.
The report concluded by saying “a grocery store is currently not feasible on the east side of Temple” because the populations and median household incomes are too low and because the 3-mile trade area of existing grocery stores has “significant overlap” in Ferguson Park and Crestview.
Smith pointed out that the east side is growing and is projected to continue to grow in the future. But, that growth must include higher incomes to attract a sizable grocery market.