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Retail survey to probe Dudley consumer habits, hopes

Sandra Larson
Sandra Larson is a Boston-based freelance journalist covering urban/social issues and policy. VIEW BIO

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is launching a survey to find out the shopping practices and desires of people who live and work near Dudley Square or pass through Dudley Station.

A flood of retail/restaurant space is set to open up over the next several years in the Dudley area with development in the works for numerous nearby sites, including the Ferdinand block, Bartlett Yard, Taber Street and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

But what businesses do people want?

The BRA hopes the survey data will help answer that question.

“We want to get on the ground information — not only people’s desires, but what do they spend their money on now, and how much do they spend?” said Dana Whiteside, the BRA’s deputy director of community economic development.

The survey is being developed by Finepoint Associates and will be administered for about a month. It will be conducted face-to-face in and around Dudley Station, available on paper at Central Boston Elder Services and the Dudley Branch Library, and offered online.

“We want to cast as broad a net as possible,” Whiteside said. “It will be the traditional folks with a clipboard, but we’ll also be using online formats.”

Three separate surveys will be given: one geared toward Dudley Square residents and commuters; one for current Dudley Square employees; and one for the 500-plus Boston Public School employees expected to come to work in the new Dudley Municipal Building in late 2014. The survey questions are about satisfaction with existing Dudley Square services and businesses, desires for new types of businesses, and dining out and lunch hour habits.

BRA spokespeople said they hope to receive about 1,000 responses. They have already publicized the survey on social media and on the BRA and Dudley Vision websites, and Roxbury residents and businesspeople have begun sharing the survey link on Twitter and Facebook.

Survey results will be shared at public meetings of the Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force.

Joyce Stanley, executive director of Dudley Square Main Streets and a member of the Task Force, has been working closely with the survey development process. She agrees the survey could provide crucial data for the area’s future economic development.

“We have a lot of new retail spaces coming in, and we should be targeting those spaces to new things,” she said. “We don’t need another sub shop. We need a better mix. We need to make sure new businesses will be there for the long term ­ so they need to be the kinds of businesses people want.”

To take the retail and consumer survey online, visit For additional information or questions, contact Dana Whiteside at 617-918- 4441 or by email at

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