CARROLLTON, Ill. – It’s a crushing blow for two towns about 70 miles from St. Louis. Both are losing their only grocery store, Kroger.
“I was in law enforcement at one time,” despondent Carrollton, Ill. Mayor, Joseph Montanez said. “I used to be the officer who would go give death announcements to the parents of victims. This was like a death announcement.”
“This is my beloved grocery store. I cried all last night when I heard,” long-time customer of the Kroger store in White Hall, Ill., said
The two stores are part of the very fabric of the two towns: Carrollton and White Hall, just 10 miles apart in Greene County, Ill., northeast of St. Louis.
The stores have been operating for more than 50 years each, residents said. There are workers with more than 40 years on the job; 46 people in total will soon be out of work.
Company officials warned them not to speak to news media, workers said.
The towns will become ‘food deserts’, shoppers said, especially for things like fresh produce.
“It’s just really heartbreaking that it’s going to be gone when so many people depend on it,” Kathy Cook, a long-time customer of the Carrollton store, said.
“The older citizens that don’t drive, or won’t drive, or can’t drive, what are they going to do now?” Jeanne Lawson, a long-time customer of the White Hall store, said.
She added that local schools and a food pantry had come to rely on donations from Kroger.
It’ll soon be 25 to 50 miles round trip to the closest true grocery stores in Jerseyville or Jacksonville, customers said.
“It is a death. It’s a loss because it’s not just me,” Johnisee cried.
“If (Kroger) could only see the number of people who come into shop here, they would be surprised and perhaps change their mind,” said Mayor Montanez. “We’re going to try to get ahold of corporate and try to talk them into perhaps reconsidering what they’re doing because they’re completely cutting our legs off.”
The stores are slated to close on May 15.
Kroger released the following statement:
Kroger’s Central Division announced today the decision to close its stores in Carrollton and White Hall, Ill. The announcement follows extensive evaluation of the stores’ financial performance. Company analysts report the stores have not operated profitably for several years and research indicates neither has realistic prospects for a turnaround.
The company praised the associates at both stores, 23 at White Hall and 23 at Carrollton, saying the decision is not a reflection on them or their service. Leaders of Kroger Human Resources will now meet with them to discuss their next steps. Severance will be offered to qualified associates based on their length of service with the company.
Kroger’s Central Division will continue to operate 21 stores in Illinois and two in Missouri.