Sweet Alice Welcomes Smart & Final to Food Desert in Watts

“I’ve been here 61 years and I remember when we didn’t have nothing -- and look what we have now!” Sweet Alice Harris said.

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From the inside, a brand-new Smart & Final looks like a typical grocery store with organic produce, fresh cut flowers, and all the staples a household needs.

But it’s where it’s located that makes it unique. 

“I’ve been here 61 years and I remember when we didn’t have nothing -- and look what we have now!” said Sweet Alice Harris, executive director of Parents of Watts.

Community leader Sweet Alice was among those celebrating the opening of the Smart & Final Extra! in Watts. 

“Today this is a new Watts,” said LA City Councilmember Joe Buscaino. 

Jose Lopez has lived in Watts for 23 years and is encouraged by the revitalization of this area.

“It’s more convenient for us,” he said. 

The area is what the USDA has designated as a food desert, or a low-income area that lacks healthy and affordable food. 

There are new affordable apartments at the Jordan Downs housing complex next door to the Jordan Downs Plaza shopping center, which will be home to a Nike store, Starbucks, Ross, and a gym, along with the new Smart & Final. 

“When I first drove this site a few years ago and saw and heard about revitalization taking part in Jordan Downs, we knew we wanted to be part of this community and part of revitalization of the area,” David Hirz, CEO and president of Smart & Final, said. 

“We used to be ashamed if somebody asked us where do you live? We said Los Angeles. Never once we said Watts,” Sweet Alice said.

But that’s no longer the case.

“One thing I want my neighbors to remember: don’t let us down, young folk. Don’t let us down! Keep this thing working, keep it going!” she said. 

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