ATHENS : New, Closer Market Gets Checked Out

With the precision of a military strategist, Monica Williams used to carefully plan her weekly grocery shopping trip, an excursion that included a 20-minute drive from her home.

But last week, the Athens resident was happy to be able to pick up some vegetables less than five minutes from her home on 121st Street.

"I've been here three times already," said Williams, pushing a cart through the newly opened produce section at Food 4 Less. "It's nice to just be able to stop by and pick something up, and it's not as expensive as so many other places."

The store at Western Avenue and Imperial Highway is the first major supermarket to open in Athens in nearly 20 years.

Its May 12 opening has changed everyday life in a community where many had become accustomed to driving to neighboring cities to shop.

"It's just so good to have a supermarket in the area," said Alice Grant, who used to travel from her home on 92nd Street to Inglewood for groceries. "In this area we are so used to having to drive to do anything."

"There was a tremendous need in the area," said Darius Anderson, a spokesman for Food 4 Less Supermarkets Inc. "The inner city has traditionally had a need for grocery stores and we are committed to serving those areas."

The store will employ about 120 people, said Anderson, adding that most employees will be hired from the area.

Nearly a week after the $2.5-million, 60,000-square-foot warehouse-style store opened, customers and money have been pouring in.

"It's doing very well so far, beyond our expectations,' said Anderson, who declined to provide figures. "It will be one of our top producers because of the size and the fact that the customers are in need in that area."

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