Breaking News
More () »

Proposed grocery store could soon be coming to Pine Bluff

The City of Pine Bluff recently approved a letter of intent for the development of a new grocery store, which would help bring healthy food options and so much more.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A new grocery store has been bringing new energy and hope to Pine Bluff as the city's Urban Renewal Agency recently approved a letter of intent for the future development of a new fresh food market.

This could bring healthy options to a food desert on the east side of the city where there are currently dollar stores lining the road— and the closest grocery store is miles away.

To the city's frustration, the area's recent grocery store closed back in November.

Councilwoman Latisha Brunson explained how as soon as she was elected to represent Ward 1 in January, she started working to get one back.

"We got to make sure that we don't disenfranchise our community because we absolutely still need a grocery store," Brunson added,

In these efforts, she wants to bring easy food access back to that part of town.

"[Residents] could walk to the store, or they could use public transportation to the store. And now that's become a hardship for them to even find a way to get access to healthy food," Brunson described.

However, she didn't pick just any grocery store to come to the area. The city has now been looking to develop with Oasis Fresh Market Foods which also functions as a non-profit organization.

"Their model is exactly what we need here for the city of Pine Bluff. They're not just a grocery store. They work with the city, they work with the community, they work with anyone who needs help," Brunson explained.

The minority-owned business opened a location in a food desert in Tulsa, Oklahoma just two years ago, and the CEO of World One Development that helps run Oasis, Charles Harper said it's been a community success ever since.

"It is more than just groceries, we also offer a lot of like, healthy eating things. We help people with utilities and deals, we do monthly events," Harper added.

Some of their programming includes teaching the community about nutrition, financial literacy, and business.

"Just imagine being in Pine Bluff, and some of those local growers are now able to see their products. That's why we say it's more than just groceries because the entire community will be able to participate," Harper said.

Oasis said it took them about 18 months to get their first store up and running, but if they use the existing building that Pine Bluff is considering, fresh fruits and vegetables could come to the area even sooner.

"People are excited, people feel like hope is coming. They feel faith. They feel like somebody's out here listening to us," Brunson said.

Discussions with Oasis Fresh Market are still in the early stages, and the market said funding will be the biggest hurdle.

Councilwoman Brunson said if all goes well, she's hoping to make the deal official by the new year.


Before You Leave, Check This Out