MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A national retail chain with a large footprint in Memphis is under fire from community activists, customers, and the courts.
LeVoe Norris says he can’t make a run to his local Family Dollar on E. H. Crump and South Third without seeing piles of trash, boxes, and tires spread across the parking lot.
“I hate coming through here, and people drive through here and look. All that trash over there. It looks bad,” said Norris.
WMC combed through records from the Shelby County Environmental Court and discovered the Family Dollar on Crump isn't the only local store with trash troubles.
The Family Dollar on Mt. Moriah and Kirby Parkway was recently closed due to a rodent infestation.
WMC Action News 5 obtained a copy of the Shelby County Health Department's Environmental complaint.
In it, an inspector recorded their observations, writing:
“As I enter the establishment, the smell of rats and droppings welcome me in." "I witnessed a customer scared and screaming because he saw a huge rat in the dog food area.” “I’ve observed a live rat on a trap in the stock room.”
The report stated employees reported headaches because of the smell.
The Shelby County Health Department closed the store indefinitely and said the store could re-open only after passing re-inspection.
Meantime, leaders with the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association are asking its members to avoid shopping at any Family Dollar store where garbage greets customers.
“We’re finally saying to Family Dollar - live up to your name. Family. Live up to your name and don’t degrade yourself to “trashy” dollar, but remain Family Dollar,” said Rev. Leonard Dawson.
According to court records, of the 63 Family Dollar locations in Memphis, 25 have been cited for code violations in environmental court since 2006.
The violations range from improper maintenance of premises to failure to comply with orders.
An environmental court spokesperson told WMC many of those cases were disposed after the stores came into compliance with the court's orders.
Four stores still have pending cases in environmental court.
“What is needed here is employee training, what is needed here is janitorial help, and what is needed here is regular trash pickup," said Dawson.
In July, community activist Patricia Rogers, who has been outspoken about the property conditions at Family Dollar stores for months now, joined pastors with the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association in a meeting with Family Dollar corporate executives to discuss their concerns.
“The community needs to come together and say...look we’re not going to put up with this,” said Rogers.
Following that meeting, Family Dollar released the following statement:
“We acknowledge that we have had incidences regarding waste management at some of our store locations. In every instance, we are committed to resolving them promptly and ensuring our stores adhere to all local regulations and store standards. Additionally, we have implemented action steps with Store Management to ensure rigorous continuity of trash monitoring throughout the day and timely reports of illegal dumping with local Waste Management.”
Customers like LeVoe Norris say it’s a step in the right direction.
He says Family Dollar is the only option for shopping in his neighborhood.
"I hope somebody does something about it though,” said Norris.
Last week, an environmental court judge ordered Family Dollar stores to build fences with locks around their garbage cans – to prevent illegal dumping.
On Thursday, community activist Patricia Rogers told us trash is now being picked up twice weekly at the stores she’s been monitoring.
The four Family Dollar stores with cases still pending in Environmental Court are scheduled for an appearance Monday.