If you don't track Cincinnati news, you might have overlooked the story that Kroger is closing yet another store, this time in Westwood. This isn't surprising in the least, as I noted this trend in a post about a year ago. Since then, I've discussed the issue of urban health in many different venues, but allow me to add a few fresh comments in light of this development. Don't believe the data. With this closing, Kroger increased the data apologetics in order to justify the closing; they brought up not only lost revenue but also stat from customer loyalty cards. Without an objective analysis, I just can't buy it. Anytime this corporation claims to be losing "millions," it's according to its own mysterious rubric. And Kroger wouldn't tolerate any of its stores losing that money at that pace. This is merely a masking agent to deflect public criticism. As I noted last year, suburban locations is where this company wants to be. Urban Krogers will soon go the way of the albatross. Remember that this is a health care issue. I was talking to my friend Jade Kendell, who lives in lower Price Hill, about this topic at his house a few months ago. One block away from his home is a convenience store which have the only viable groceries within walking distance. Unfortunately, the store only sells junk food and cheap booze. All the kids in the neighborhood by food their because 1) it's available and 2) it's cheap. Understand that all of us eventually pay for this as the obesity and diabetes rates skyrocket in these communities and we subsidize their health care through taxes and increased medical expenses. A recent NY Times article featured this issue within the city of Philadelphia. Read it here.
It's not about race. It's about socio-economics. But read the comments about the Enquirer article and you'll soon realize that it is about race with the general public. This is yet another reason I'm obsessed with Cincinnati history; it explains how these neighborhoods became neglected. When you study the outright class segregation the our city father's created, you begin to realize that these situations were manufactured.
We'll all feel the pinch soon. Kroger's business plan is based on consumers who have access to automobile transportation, hence the added impact of this closing stores in urban, bus-going communities. As gasoline prices this summer seem destined to escalate towards $4 a gallon, those precious driving customers will likely begin to reevaluate their shopping habits.
You might not care, but you should.