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R&R Marketplace in Dellwood started as a prayer. Now it’s ‘a miracle’

Ken and Beverly Jenkins speak to a crowd gathered for the opening of the R&R Marketplace in Dellwood, MO on September 14, 2023. The Marketplace is a redevelopment of a long vacant shopping plaza into a community economic hub.
Eric Schmid
St. Louis Public Radio
Ken and Beverly Jenkins speak to a crowd gathered for the opening of the R&R Marketplace in Dellwood on Sept. 14, 2023. The Marketplace is a redevelopment of a long-vacant shopping plaza into a community economic hub.

The dream of R&R Marketplace started with a parking lot. For years, pastors Ken and Beverly Jenkins talked about creating a “marketplace” ministry, a place that could draw on the spiritual resources of a church while strengthening the economic muscles of the communities around it.

“When it first began, it was a seed about people,” said Beverly Jenkins, president and CEO of the nonprofit Refuge and Restoration. “How do we serve people better? From the standpoint of: How they can receive what they need to be the citizens that they would like to be in this world?”

The idea eventually led the couple to a familiar area in Dellwood: a strip mall on West Florissant Avenue that had been effectively abandoned after a Schnucks supermarket closed there nearly 20 years ago.

Ken Jenkins knew the spot well. He drove by the spot every time he visited his father.

“We watched the disinvestment, we watched Schnucks close, we watched the other businesses leave,” he told St. Louis on the Air. “We would drive by, and Bev and I would discuss that this would be a great place to do all the things that we were already doing. … It was probably a daily, almost weekly conversation where we would talk about it. And then we started the process of going on the lot. And praying.”

The pastors prayed for guidance and resources. Over the next 10 years, as the region grappled with issues exposed by the Ferguson protests, the two worked to make their dream — and prayers — a reality.

In September, R&R Marketplace opened its first phase of a planned $20 million economic hub featuring centers for innovation, coworking, a restaurant and bank branch. In March, the development added an addiction treatment center and community pharmacy.

Ken Jenkins, who serves as board chairman of the Refuge and Restoration nonprofit, said the marketplace represents “a miracle.”

“That was the prayer,” he explained. “God just kept sending people into our lives. The more we prayed, the more people we met, the more people came on board and had a heart to be a part of this.”

To hear more about R&R Marketplace, including the Jenkins’ plans for the next phase of development, listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Podcast or by clicking the play button below.

Listen to Ken and Beverly Jenkins on 'St. Louis on the Air'

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Roshae Hemmings is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org.

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."