Southeast Raleigh has lacked a good supermarket for quite some time, since a Kroger store closed more than a year and a half ago.
Southeast Raleigh is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "food desert," an urban area where the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and at least 33 percent of residents have limited access to a supermarket or large grocery store. After the Kroger store closed, residents had to trek several miles – sometimes on foot, sometimes taking various buses – to get to the nearest supermarket.
Art Pope’s Variety Wholesalers has purchased the vacant Kroger store in Southeast Raleigh with plans to establish the company’s first standalone grocery in an area that badly needs one.
The company, which owns Roses, Maxway and other discount stores, bought the property on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard last week for $2.57 million – well below its assessed tax value of $5.65 million.
Normally this would be good news, and perhaps it will turn out to be good news. Community leaders seem cautiously optimistic. I might be optimistic too if Art Pope didn't have such a sleazy history of exploiting the poor through his retail stores.
I'd love to see this be a win for the community. I'm not optimistic, though.
“It is a way to serve our community,” [Art Pope] said.
That part we don't believe for one nanosecond.