Success of South Peoria’s first store leads couple to open another
PEORIA – A few months after opening their first store in South Peoria, a transplanted Peoria couple said they plan to bring a carnival atmosphere to their second store on South Western Avenue.
Shonta Simmons and her husband, Willie, recently opened N & Out Market, 304 S. Western Ave., as an associate store with TNT Outlet, located at 2203 SW Jefferson Ave.
She calls them sibling operations and hopes the new store can offer a slightly different vibe, with new things like funnel cakes.
“It’s more of a carnival type effect, to bring a funnel cake into a community like this where they might not have access to that carnival experience,” said Shonta Simmons. “Food gives them the same feeling.”
Food, she said, can awaken the mind and also change behavior.
“Having something you love, something fun keeps you in that positive element and when you’re in a positive environment you tend to do better things and make better decisions,” said Shonta Simmons.
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Part of Shonta and Willie Simmons’ mission is to show the next generation an example of black-owned businesses.
“We want to show people that they can do it,” said Shonta Simmons. “… We are giving the children of the next generation an idea of what you can do.”
This is exactly what Denise Moore, the head of the Black Business Alliance – Peoria Chapter, wants to hear.
“There have been very few African American convenience stores opened on the South Side or in Borough 1 for that matter,” said Moore, a former city councilor. “To see them open one and then be so successful that they open a second is exciting and encouraging and a role model for what can happen.”
Moore said the Simmons family is indicative of increased investment in South Peoria, as are contractors like Tony Scroggins who have rehabilitated properties in the area and improved infrastructure on MacArthur Highway and Western Avenue.
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Other ways stores will be different
N & Out isn’t just about funnel cakes, says Shonta Simmons. The new store will have more products, she said, and more food in general than their other store. And where TNT Outlet has more clothes and clothing, this store will have less, showing off some of what people can get at TNT.
There will be different types of grains, vegetarian meals, and options for people with lactose intolerance. Like the first store, N & Out offers detergent, tissues and lottery tickets, explains Shonta Simmons. But there is a different clientele.
“TNT has an older population and here they have the Roosevelt Magnet School (nearby) and there are more kids around, so we have different things here,” she said.
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