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'Here we go again' | Orange Mound, Bethel Grove neighbors working to fill in gaps after Aldi closes

The Aldi store on Lamar Avenue has shut down for good citing property damage, numerous thefts and poor sales.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Community advocates are "disappointed" after another vital grocery store is shutting its doors.

Aldi has now joined Kroger as the second major grocer to shut down in the past 4 years, leaving people in the Orange Mound and Bethel Grove neighborhoods with one less food source. 

Families and Instacart workers were caught off guard Friday while trying buy food at the now boarded-up building. 

Neighborhood advocates said the closure of another grocer really hurts, especially those who have to walk or drive farther to put food on the table.  

Keith Leachman, an Orange Mound resident said it’s a tough blow.

“Second store in a few years and it’s going to be kind of hard on the people to get to the store," Leachman said. "We only have like two stores left in this area." 

He said the closure is hitting households and pockets hard.

Four years ago, the community protested against the Kroger on Lamar closing. It was later replaced by Superlo Foods.

Aldi cited crime as the major factor for closing the Lamar location, adding that multiple thefts and property damage made the store unsafe for its employees and customers.

Community activist Britney Thorton said this recent news is the kind of story about Bethel Grove and Orange Mound that she’s trying to change.

“For me it was 'here we go again,'" she said. "It just leaves the community in a space of just wondering 'do you really care?' Who cares to fight for us to be able to have access to high-quality food?” 

Councilman J Ford Canale represents Superdistrict 8. He said as more stores pull out of some Memphis communities, the cycle can only get worse.    

“Food insecurity is a real issue in our city, and there’s too many neighborhoods that are food deserts," the councilman said. "It’s a tremendous burden to try to carry your groceries back if you have to go a long distance.” 

Meanwhile, Leachman said Orange Mound, the first neighborhood in America built by African-Americans, needs a plan to restore itself.  

“We’re actually working with Mayor Strickland, Mr. Ken Moody right now to provide jobs in the heart of the community to provide contracts and to provide job skills and trainings," the Orange Mound native said. "Give them a different outlet. Let them earn their keep.”   

Leachman said it’s important to both heal and build Bethel Grove and Orange Mound.

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