Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson took his boycott of Kroger to the company’s hometown of Cincinnati.
Jackson’s boycott of Kroger began last week after three of its stores in predominantly black neighborhoods of the Memphis area closed. A Kroger store in Walnut Hills, a neighborhood in Cincinnati, also recently closed.
Kroger claims all of these stores underperformed, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jackson, who met with Kroger officials Tuesday, does not believe Kroger’s claims that some of the stores that closed were unprofitable and feels more could have been done to save them.
“Look at the attention suburban stores are getting ... with wine and services,” Jackson told media Tuesday, according to the Enquirer. “(These closed stores) ... someone could make these profitable.
“Clearly, if you look around there are people here who eat and buy groceries,” he added. “Is it a management issue or a consumer issue? People are certainly consuming.”
Kroger noted the closure of the Walnut Hills store came after a store in Corryville opened 1.3 miles away, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. The Walnut Hills store was in operation for 34 years but hadn’t turned a profit in two decades, the Enquirer reported.
Jackson said the closings have a negative impact on the community because they create food deserts, an urban area where it’s difficult to find affordable and good quality fresh food. Kroger disputed those claims, according to media reports.
Kroger closed about 50 of its 2,800 stores in the last 18 months because they were underperforming, NBC 26 reported.
“Only about 10 percent operated in communities that some might call underserved,” Kroger Senior Director Keith Dailey said, according to NBC 26.
“We believe the most effective and the best wa347y for Kroger to expand access to fresh and healthy foods in our community is by running profitable stores, and while it is always incredibly difficult to close a store, sometimes we have to do that to keep prices low for all of our customers,” Dailey added, according to ABC 6.