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Kroger closings highlight food needs in southeast Raleigh

Posted November 29, 2012
Updated November 30, 2012

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An announcement this month by Kroger that it is closing two stores in and near southeast Raleigh in mid-January has city leaders and residents concerned not only about the local economy but also about the ease of access to food for the community.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and members of the City Council are working on a letter to send to the Ohio-based company asking it to reconsider closing its stores on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and New Bern Avenue.

Southeast Raleigh is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "food desert," an urban low-income area where the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and at least 33 percent of residents have low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.

City Council member Eugene Weeks, who represents the community, says it has few major grocery stores and that the Kroger stores are feasible options for customers who use public transportation.

"This is a necessity for this area," he said.

Although there are other grocery retail options near the New Bern Avenue store, the nearest to the Martin Luther King location is miles away.

"The seniors, more than anything else, they depend on the groceries here and their medicine here," Weeks said. "People in this area have to go 5 miles to get food for their house, and it doesn’t make sense."

Residents on fixed incomes, like Kroger customer Zelda Edrington, say, the store’s closing will present a logistical challenge. Kroger closings worry city leaders Kroger closings worry city leaders

"That would mean I'd have to get on a bus and carry all my groceries on the bus, get off the bus and get on another bus and come home," she said. "I feel comfortable (with Kroger). I don't have to worry about getting on a bus."

Weeks and others are also concerned about the impact on other businesses in the area.

"It's going to hurt the community overall," said Stan Dorsey, who owns Stan's Barber Style Shop, a fixture in southeast Raleigh for a decade. "It's going to affect us. I'm not sure how we'll survive, but we will."

Dorsey worries the store’s closing will cut into his profits.

"I'm very disappointed, very disappointed and shocked," he said. "We have new people working here, they can't generate new customers because of traffic flow."

Carl York, advertising and public relations manager for Kroger's mid-Atlantic marketing region, said in a statement Thursday that the two stores that are closing operated for more than a decade without a profit and that keeping them open is no longer "financially feasible."

Although the stores have customers, the average purchases are typically smaller, making the stores less profitable.

"We have dedicated much of our resources to making these stores successful and profitable," York said. "We did not see enough improvement to continue to keep them open."

York says Kroger met with city officials a few years ago about the Martin Luther King Boulevard store and that it also provided "considerable outreach" to the local community to increase business at the store.

Weeks says he thinks the company didn't reach out enough to the community. He says city leaders will aggressively recruit new business in the area.

"We are going to put a store or something in here for the people of the area," he said. "What affects this, affects the shops along here. We're not going to see that happen."

Map

A map of major grocery stores in Raleigh and southeast Raleigh (shaded region). Stores include Kroger, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Walmart Supercenter, Target, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Trader Joe's and Lowes Foods.


View Raleigh Grocery Stores in a larger map

217 Comments

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  • NCHighlander Nov 30, 6:51 p.m.

    I heard someone say that a developer was going to put in apartments. But if they don't it will kill what is left in the plaza. Just like the Kroger on Atlantic ave. When it closed a lot of stores pulled out or ran out of business. GravyPig

    Mini city has suffered a similar fate. It takes cash for a business to survive and Mini city had too many people with no cash. It's sort of a natural selection in the business world. Cameron Village and North Hill's mall are doing fine. Why is that?

  • cynda-ur-way Nov 30, 6:26 p.m.

    I am a regular kroger shopper. Used to live in Garner and used that one alot. Moved off Glasco*k st and went to the one on MLK. Horrible selection. The deli literally just had sliced ham and american cheese laying on platters in the case. Maybe bologna not much else. Hence, I frequent the one on six forks/wake forest rd now. It seems they only catered to low income shoppers to begin with.

  • Bartmeister Nov 30, 6:21 p.m.

    They were the only store that carried the spice I was looking for from the Dinosaur Barbecue.
    GravyPig

    ==============================================

    Oddly enough, my buddy mentioned a Dinosaur BBQ the other day and said he found some ingredients at Trader Joes.

  • GravyPig Nov 30, 6:21 p.m.

    ""Wouldn't a Wegmans in the area be fun."

    =======================================

    Do they have bars on the windows and doors or something? That would make it fit in that area. Nothing fun is going in there, nothing modern, nothing substantial will ever go in there. Probably will be turned into a nightclub 6 times before being bull dozed. It's harsh but it is reality."

    Nope, Wegmans is just another full service grocery store.

    I heard someone say that a developer was going to put in apartments. But if they don't it will kill what is left in the plaza. Just like the Kroger on Atlantic ave. When it closed a lot of stores pulled out or ran out of business.

  • mmtlash Nov 30, 6:20 p.m.

    "There is a Food Lion several miles up MLK once it becomes Raleigh Blvd from the Kroger, although it would be a bit of a hike if you are carless with a lot of groceries."

    "Actually MLK and Raleigh Blvd are purpendicular to each other and only intersect, but yes there is a FL on Raleigh Blvd. There are also other stores close to the New Bern Ave Kroger."-Gravypig

    my bad I was thinking of how Rock Quarry turned into Raleigh Blvd

  • Bartmeister Nov 30, 6:10 p.m.

    Woohoo, he was responding to what TV D had posted. His responses were mixed in with what was quoted. GravyPig

    ==================================
    Thanks Gravy. I'm, not sure woohoo will ever get it.

  • GravyPig Nov 30, 5:57 p.m.

    "That wasn't my statement. Please-Bartmeister

    “The store's even already there.. just take it over and run it and reap the profits.” Those are your words not mine…sounds like ‘just’ taking over a lemonade stand or ‘just’ walking down the street. Never heard of something very difficult being described with the word "just" if a person what not trying to make it sound easy. Please"

    Woohoo, he was responding to what TV D had posted. His responses were mixed in with what was quoted.

  • Bartmeister Nov 30, 5:45 p.m.

    "Wouldn't a Wegmans in the area be fun."

    =======================================

    Do they have bars on the windows and doors or something? That would make it fit in that area. Nothing fun is going in there, nothing modern, nothing substantial will ever go in there. Probably will be turned into a nightclub 6 times before being bull dozed. It's harsh but it is reality.

  • Bartmeister Nov 30, 5:33 p.m.

    "Close one of them and then you'll "save money" and be able to keep those other two open! Look outside the box Kroger!!! Bodhi126

    =======================================

    This isn't about closing a couple stores in a particular area to hurt that area. Its about a couple of stores in a particular area that are losing money because the area didn't support them. Besides, who declared this area "Entitled" to anything. It's a "Food and Economical Desert" because the surrounding community made it that way. Once those large stores close down, it's like an economical atom bomb going off. Probably destined to be a Big Lots or some other discount and otherwise useless retail location. The collateral damage will kill the businesses around it.

  • GravyPig Nov 30, 5:28 p.m.

    "Wouldn't a Wegmans in the area be fun."

    I've only been to a few up in NY around Syracuse and I love how they have the feel of an old grocery store. The look and feel of the meat cases and freezers, the checkouts, and they pack some food up in that store. Plenty to choose from. They were the only store that carried the spice I was looking for from the Dinosaur Barbecue.

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