For nearly two years, the residents of Orange Mound, a neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee, have been without a proper grocery store.
When Kroger, the major grocer in Orange Mound, closed its doors in 2018, residents were forced to travel farther away — a 30-minute ride by city bus — to purchase groceries.
But city leaders and two competing grocery chains worked together to come up with a solution that will restore a full-service grocer to the neighborhood.
“[Residents] have been crying out for the last 20 months because they didn’t have a full-service grocery story in the heart of the community,” Memphis City Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen told the Memphis Business Journal. “It’s very difficult to catch a bus with a lot of groceries in hand.”
This is the first time in Kroger’s 136-year history that it has donated a building to a competitor, said Kroger Delta Division president Victor Smith. https://t.co/vjBzjZ89UC
— MBJ (@MBJMemphis) September 30, 2019
Kroger had hoped that Superlo Foods, a competing grocery chain, would take up residence in the vacant building, but Superlo was not in a financial position to purchase the building and open another store.
Kroger hoped to find a buyer for the facility, but ultimately, corporate leaders put the needs of the people above the need for a profit by donating the $500,000 vacant building to Superlo.
City leaders, including Swearengen and Memphis mayor Jim Strickland, worked with the presidents of Superlo and Kroger to make the deal happen. The city is assisting with the deal, giving Superlo a $100,000 grant to get the store up and running.
Kroger Delta Division President Victor Smith said this is the first time that Kroger’s has donated a building to a competitor in the company’s 136-year history.
“[Since arriving in December], I’ve heard a lot about this one important promise we made to the community … to bring a grocer back to historic Orange Mound,” Smith said. “We can drop the competition for a moment.”
Kroger donates closed store building to local Memphis competitor as to prevent a food desert in the Orange Mound communityhttps://t.co/tzth03jJMH
— ChristianMagicIsARacket (@TNVoteNoOn1) October 1, 2019
The two grocery stores made the announcement on Sept. 30, the camaraderie evident between Superlo president Randy Stepherson and his Kroger rival Smith.
The two men stood proudly behind the community of Orange Mound, happy to announce the historic decision.
“I’d never expect to be standing in the lobby of Kroger Delta Division headquarters with [a Kroger] sign behind me,” Stepherson said with a laugh.
“I’d like to commend Kroger, this one time, for what they’ve done for the community.”
Stepherson hopes to open the new Superlo store by the end of the year.
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