CARROLLTON (CBS 11 News) ― When the Furneaux Creek Shopping Center in Carrolton was built in the 1980s, none of the current development that now lines near the President George Bush Turnpike was in place. Some people would say the shops were in the middle of nowhere, and as time went on various factors seemed to prove the center was doomed for failure.
When Mervyn’s – the biggest retail draw to the center – closed down four years ago, the surrounding businesses also closed, leaving more than 60 percent of the center vacant. Because of its age, the center was also considered an eyesore, according to one source.
The Carrollton Asian Town Center, LP investment group purchased many of the buildings two years ago. Now Carrollton residents may be surprised by the changes over the last year.
Thanks in part to a grant from the city business owners were able to give the center a face lift. The majority of business signs are written in Korean. The center is now operating at 80 percent of its capacity and is a part of a diverse Carrollton community.
“A lot of international people live here,” said Steve Yu, general manager of Super H. Mart. “It’s not just for Koreans, but also Indians and Pakistanis. There is a diversity that lives in Carrollton.”
Super H. Mart, an upscale Asian grocery store, is the center of the thriving market place.
“It’s not like you’re regular grocery store,” said customer Geneva Vines. “They have great produce, and there are all sorts of interesting things to see and buy.”
“We like to carry different varieties of fruits and vegetables that you won’t see in American supermarkets,” Yu said.
When the store held its opening in February, officials said it was the largest in the chain’s history. Rainy weather couldn’t keep lines of customers from exploring the new store.
Yu accredits the store’s instant success to word of mouth. “I’ve brought a lot of people just to see the store,” Vines said. “I think it’s worth the trip. It’s an experience anyway.”
Super H. Mart also carries traditional grocery store and household items. “I probably come once every two weeks,” said customer Wendi Kamis. “Their prices seem to be a lot better. I find a better bargain and get more for my money.”
Every weekend the store offers samples of the more exotic foods for customers to try. “There are a lot of different fruits from all over the world,” Vines said pointing to the assortment. “We’ve tried several different kinds that we’re not used to having.”
The store also houses a small shopping mall with various vendors, a community art center and a large food court. “I love all the stuff that’s here,” said June VanHoose on her first visit to Super H. mart. “It’s unusual.”