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Case Study

Rural Grocery Store Revitalization

Livingston, AL


Livingston is the largest community in Sumter County and neighboring Greene County, and is an economic anchor for the western part of the state. In 2005, the community’s primary grocery store, a small Wal-Mart, closed down to facilitate the opening of a Supercenter 30 miles away. This was a huge economic blow, resulting in lost jobs and tax revenue. Fortunately, a grocery store called the Market Place opened two years later and the locally-owned independent supermarket became an anchor of food access in one of Alabama’s most rural, under served counties. In 2020, local leaders joined OPAL’s CGA program concerned about declining quality and revenues at the Market Place. Strengthening this supermarket – walking distance from the University of West Alabama campus, several apartment complexes, and the state’s first rural charter school – would improve quality of life for many in west Alabama.

During CGA, OPAL recruited a new owner-operator, who has made significant investments to recapture sales from residents regularly traveling 30-50 miles for groceries. OPAL also introduced the owner to two CDFIs committed to equity in the Deep South. The owner has closed on one zero-interest loan to finance critical equipment upgrades and facade improvements for the store.