MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The petitions and persistence paid off those in Orange Mound. Wednesday morning, a full-service supermarket opened its doors in that community for the first time in nearly two years.
Those at Superlo Foods welcomed their first customers at the same property where a Kroger store closed in February 2018, in turn creating a fresh produce and fresh meat desert for hundreds of people.
The response was strong as a steady stream of shoppers filled the parking lot throughout the day.
The Superlo Foods store opening served as a sweet reward for Orange Mound neighbors who never gave up fighting – or lost hope – in getting a grocery store back open on the block.
“It’s a blessing,” Orange Mound community leader LaTonia Blankenship said.
Blankenship fought hard for the sight she witnessed Wednesday: shoppers again heading into a full-service supermarket in her neighborhood.
“We back,” Blankenship said. “We got a grocery store back in the neighborhood.”
She and others spent nearly two years working relentlessly for another grocery store to open in Orange Mound, after a Kroger on the Lamar Avenue property near Airways closed in early 2018.
“Thank God that y’all decided to come back,” Francis Waller said.
To rally support, those living in Orange Mound signed petitions, organized with neighborhood churches, even recruited civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to the cause.
“This store here, baby, it’s a miracle. It’s a miracle for it to be here, because we need it,” Waller said.
With the aisles stocked again with fresh fruit and meats for Orange Mound shoppers, those who work at locally-run Superlo Foods are also proud about the reach the grocery store provides.
“I am so excited for this community, not necessarily the Orange Mound community – we got Bethel Grove, Castalia, so we are here to serve the community,” Superlo Foods store manager Sherman Guy said.
The store opening also means jobs for the Orange Mound community, with nearly 30 full-time positions and 40 part-time positions planned.
Kroger did donate the property so Superlo Foods could rework and reopen the store with fewer obstacles.