MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than a year ago, there was outrage after Kroger announced it was closing the doors at the Lamar and Airways location leaving behind a food desert. But last month, Kroger announced it was donating the old site to locally owned Superlo Foods.
Now, the renovation of the Orange Mound grocery store is in progress, and people will soon be able to walk through the doors to shop.
"Neighborhoods need good food choices," said Reid Dulberger, president and CEO of the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County (EDGE). "Full service grocery stores are critical to the quality of life and the health of these neighborhoods."
Dulberger said an EDGE committee signed off on giving Superlo a $100,000 loan from EDGE, along with the $100,000 they're getting from the City of Memphis.
"Grocery stores are a very low-margin operation," Dulberger said. "Essentially 1% profit margin, so anything that we can help Superlo save increases their probability of success in that location."
Statistics from EDGE show nearly 100,000 people live within a 3-mile radius of the new store with a median household income of a little more than $31,000, and the federal government considers the spot severely distressed.
The family-owned Superlo store brings 28 full-time jobs with an average wage more than $35,000.
"Being able to use the same tools that help the big companies with the big job creation numbers also help our neighborhood businesses," Dulberger said. "It's critically important to the community."
The EDGE board meets next week and will consider a tax abatement for the store.
Superlo hopes to open the Orange Mound store by early December.