Residents demand answers after Kroger announces closures

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Kroger announced Wednesday the closure of not one but two of its stores in the Memphis community.

Advocates are now demanding answers, especially since they say so many people depend on those locations.

"I was shocked - the immediacy of Feb. 3 just really frustrated me because the Kroger has been around since 1954 in the community and serving the community," said resident Britney Thornton.

Kroger announced Wednesday its Lamar Avenue and South Third Street locations will close after losing money. Officials said employees at the each of those stores will be offered positions at other Kroger locations

But residents said it's a community staple.

"People come here for their bank or the pharmacy," Thornton said. "There are so many people who depend on this location."

Community members gathered outside the Lamar Kroger on Thursday, voicing their concerns and frustrations

"Kroger been in the neighborhood so long and you have a lot of people in Orange Mound that don't have transportation," said Reginald Tucker.

Now, Orange Mound community members are working together to decide to fight for Kroger or push for other alternatives

"I really think if Kroger corporate execs sat down with community leaders, we can figure out a more feasible plan to prevent the loss, to figure out what's at the sole of this issue they're having at this location," Thornton said.

WMC Action News 5 brought residents' concerns to Kroger officials. They pointed out there's a "Save-A-Lot" across the street.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland threw his support behind the community effort.

"We will get another grocery store in or near those locations," Strickland said. "I don't know when, but it will be a priority of ours."

Residents met Mt. Pisgah Church to discuss how to move forward.

"Shock, dismay, disappointment, angry almost," said resident Barry Ford. "Both of the stores I shopped at most of my life are going to be gone in less than a month."

The stores have been a staple in the communities.

"For those who have cars, it's easy to navigate the changes," Ford said. "We have many across those communities who do not."

People went to Kroger's not just to shop for food, but also for the bank and the pharmacy.

Many people at the meeting were unhappy that Kroger built fancy new stores in some communities but didn't seem to care much about the stores in their communities.

Wanda Halbert represented the area for eight years on the city council.

"I remember going into the Kroger and it smelled like rotted meat," Halbert said. "It smelled like dead meat."

Halbert said she complained and it got a little better.

There are other grocery stores in the area like Save-A-Lot and ALDI. Kroger said it is closing the stores because they were losing millions of dollars.

Resident Alvin Crook had one solution.

"I say let them go," Crook said. "This could be the opportunity to get something of our own as far as a black business."

Residents said they plan to hold several more meetings in the future.

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