PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Hoping to revitalize Peoria’s Southside, a new store opening this week may be the first step in that process.
Shonta and Willie Simmons said they were looking for a way to give back to the community when they decided to open TNT Outlet. It’s a convenience store located at 2203 SW Jefferson Ave, an area where certain items aren’t easily accessible to everyone.
“One of the things we wanted to do was figure out how we could rehabilitate the community,” Shonta said.
The idea then came to open their store on the city’s south end.
The Simmons said the process took about a year and a half, which also involved assessing the area and asking community members what they preferred to see in that location.
They said the response pushed more towards a convenience store resulting in TNT Outlet. One side will sell food items and the other will lean more toward clothing and apparel.
The Simmons said because grocery stores and shopping outlets have come and gone on the city’s south side, they wanted to help fill the void.
“We were like ‘hey, this is something we need to give and kind of bring back to the community because these are things that people still need,” Shonta said. ” It’s not “wants” but these are things people still truly need, i.e. food and other types of items but they don’t have access to.”
“We’re going to have pizza here and we’ll have coffee in the mornings and we’re also going to try to increase the food side in the next few months,” Willie said.
The store is also located in front of a retirement community, southside manor, and the Simmons said they’re looking into ways to cater to them.
“We want to offer a delivery service in the future for the people in case they can’t get back and forth to the store,” Shonta said. “We’ll have someone that’s kind of running them items such as tissue, soap, or any kind of food items to try to help out the community.”
The couple said they’ve also noticed, at times, people taking from the community instead of giving back. They said they’re hoping to change that narrative and build relationships with those in the area.
“A lot of things are overpriced in our urban community,” Willie said. “To bring the prices down to where people can benefit, that’s our form of giving back.”
They said they’ve also stamped positive quotes on the store’s walls hoping the people who come in will leave feeling better.
The store will have a soft opening on Thursday, July 15.
The Simmons also said they’re brainstorming ideas to have “TNT Giveback” opportunities. They said these could include starting a non-profit organization or offering free delivery services on certain days.