ST. LOUIS – Following a tragedy that cost several people their jobs, a downtown grocery store is giving meaning to the phrase “love thy neighbor.”
Fields Foods on Washington Avenue has employed some 7-11 workers after the business was set on fire during a night of unrest.
“We reached out to the family, for lack of a better word, or the 7-11 group,” Fields Foods owner Chris Goodson said. “When something happens in this 20-block area, it affects everybody. And everyone is attuned to it.”
Goodson said the 7-11 ownership was contacted shortly after the 7-11 at 17th and Pine Street was looted the evening of June 1. The violent incident happened following protests over the death of George Floyd. Dozens of St. Louis businesses were either vandalized or looted that evening.
The building is a total loss.
At least one person from the 7-11 has begun working full-time as a cashier at the Fields Food, Goodson said.
Others 7-11 workers say they are hopeful over the prospect of a job opportunity.
Alisa McGee worked at the 7-11 for twenty years.
“It was more than working at the store, it was like family. I actually looked forward to going to work every day,” she said.
McGee said her job search has been difficult, especially during the pandemic.
“Currently, I’m still looking. Still searching. With the pandemic, some things are shut off,” she said.
McGee said she is grateful to hear Fields is looking out for its downtown neighbor.
“I think that is an awesome thing. Because there were so many of us affected by this tragedy,” McGee said.
Goodson said he appreciates the chance to provide employment. He said doing so not only provides workers with paychecks, it helps support the neighborhood.
“The grocery business, like a lot of retail, a lot of restaurants, those are starter jobs. We got to get that pipeline back into those starter jobs. So, they can go on to other careers. And we grow as a community. Not go backward,” he said.