Venerable retailer Marshall Grain Co. said May 5 it will close its Fort Worth store at the end of June and focus its attention on its growing Grapevine location.
Jim Connelley, owner and president of the 70-year-old gardening supply business, made the decision to close the East Lancaster Avenue outlet citing declining sales at that location and the worsening condition of its surrounding neighborhood.
“The City Council of Fort Worth has refused to take the necessary steps to reverse the overall decline of this historic neighborhood, to the detriment of businesses and homeowners,” Connelley said. “That fact, coupled with a change in our strategic vision makes it necessary for us to close the Fort Worth location and consolidate our operations in Grapevine.”
Connelley said the neighborhood’s problems worsened when the city congregated its homeless shelters in a single area on the near east side of Interstate 35W. The neighborhood has become a high crime area, he said.
“Our store is regularly broken into and shoplifted by the neighborhood’s homeless population,” he said. “Both our customers and our employees feel unsafe in that area, and as a result, fewer customers are willing to brave the gauntlet of homeless, panhandlers, prostitutes and drug addicts that roam up and down East Lancaster. This has had a negative impact on our business.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price took issue with Connelly’s comments.
“I thought they were a bit harsh on some of that,” she said. “The crime statistics just don’t show all that out. Marshall Grain has been a long time Fort Worth company, and I understand the changing demographics, but I thought their words were a bit strong for what you see in reality on East Lancaster.”
The Fort Worth retailer’s roots date back to 1914, Connelley said. Marshall Grain Co. was one of the first garden supply companies in North Texas to carry organic products along with its lines of feeds and supplies for dogs, cats, backyard chickens and wild birds.
The company will focus on its Grapevine location, which offers, in addition to organic products and pet supplies, organic landscape maintenance services, design and installation projects, and in-store education programs.
The Fort Worth store is set to close on June 30. Now through that date the store will host a special close-out sale of inventory. – Additional reporting by Samantha Calimbahin