City study shows single grocer likely won't be able to fill closed Kroger stores

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It will be more difficult than initially thought to fill the two Memphis Kroger locations that were closed in February 2018.

Kroger's locations at 1977 South Third Street and 2269 Lamar Avenue sit empty after the grocery giant closed the stores, citing a loss in profits.

Memphis City Council launched a study to look into ways to help the communities that relied on those grocery stores.

Rhonnie Brewer helped lead that study.

"What I've asked the city to look at is the potential to bring in grocery stores across the city and creating a prototype for those grocery stores to ensure they are profitable," Brewer said.

Initial findings from the study showed the Lamar Avenue location was profitable but the one on South Third was not.

The median income around the Lamar Avenue store is roughly $37,000 and 40 percent of customers use SNAP benefits.

The median income around the store on South Third is roughly $24,000 dollars with 50 percent of customers using SNAP benefits.

Brewer said simply reopening the two spaces in question as stand-alone stores doesn't appear to be marketable to grocers. The grocers would need to recruit other tenants that could pay rent inside the building, in order to turn a profit.

"I'd love to see this be a unified effort. I'd love to see a way for us to develop a prototype that would work not just in South Memphis or Orange Mound but in North Memphis or Hickory Hill," Brewer said.

So what's next? It's back to the drawing board to come up with that strategy.

Other cities across the county have built stores like this as cooperatives or in conjunction with nonprofits.

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