A Dave’s Market cashier checks out a customer Monday. The grocery store is part of a complex that’s seen increased business in recent years. (Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal)
A Dave’s Market cashier checks out a customer Monday. The grocery store is part of a complex that’s seen increased business in recent years. (Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal)

Shopping center key to Valley Grande’s growth

Published 7:58pm Monday, June 16, 2014

VALLEY GRANDE — A patch of Alabama Highway 22 in Valley Grande is quickly gaining a reputation as the city’s primary business hub.

Since first opening in the early 2000s, Valley Grande’s primary shopping center has increased its sales and traffic totals tremendously. The shopping center now contains Dave’s Market, Valle Grande Mexican Grill and Genesis Boutique.

Tom Lee, the shopping center’s developer and former mayor of Valley Grande, said he initially started the process of building the complex because of limited retail options in the city.

“At the time, there was nothing of a tax base or very little other than convenience stores,” Lee said.

Lee said business progressed steadily, but didn’t truly take off until Dave Oliver, current owner of Dave’s Market, asked in 2009 about purchasing the shopping complex’s grocery store.

Oliver previously owned a grocery store in Plantersville.

Lee said Oliver’s business model — cost plus 10 percent — drew some criticism at first.

“We were cautioned that the concept may not work,” Lee said. “We were told that the concept only works in larger markets.”

After a few years, Dave’s has skyrocketed in popularly. Oliver says profits are about 10 times what they were in 2010. Lee said the store’s ranking in its grocery co-operative — Associated Grocers —has also increased. The store is ranked ninth overall in its division.

“We just try to offer fair prices and good customer service,” Oliver said.

Dave’s Market is also the largest sales tax generator in Valley Grande. Another top three sales tax generator sits several feet away — Valle Grande Mexican Grill.

“It seems like we clicked well together,” Olver said. “Some of my customers might go to the Mexican restaurant and some of their customers might come here.”

The restaurant opened in early 2013 after multiple other restaurants.

Genesis Boutique, a women’s clothing store opened in the complex’s final space earlier this year.

Valley Grande Mayor Wayne Labbe said the restaurant and grill are convenient for many of his city’s residents and are a sign of growth.

“As Valley Grande continues to grow, we are going to require more business,” Labbe said. “It’s exciting to see the city grow. We have got a wide span of area to cover as far as the city of Valley Grande.”

Because of the shopping center’s increased traffic, Lee said he is beginning to expand the parking lot and looking at adding another restaurant to the area.

“What we don’t have is some type of breakfast offering,” he said. “I think that would be a huge opportunity.”

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