There has been much debate on the real reasoning behind the closing of the Save A Lot grocery at 13th and Grove. Yesterday, District 1 Councilman Brandon Johnson posted a letter to Facebook to dispel some of the rumors behind the store’s closing and provide steps on the future for NE Wichita’s food desert.
Councilman Johnson said the real reason behind the closing is Save-A-Lot’s shift in their business model; they intend to sell their corporate stores to owners who will license their brand. According to his sources, Save-A-Lot plans to sell three hundred of their corporate-owned stores.
Johnson talked directly with a Save-A-Lot representative who spoke highly of the Central, Northeast Wichita community, praising how supportive they were of the store. In Johnson’s letter, he first addressed assumptions that the community was to blame for the stores closing.
“Mayor Whipple looked into the data and there were fifteen instances of crime at this location over a three year period, with none being in 2021, the community is not to blame for this,” said Johnson.
Yesterday, Johnson hosted a meeting with staff of US Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, representative for Kansas Department of Commerce, State Senator Oletha Fausr-Goudeau, State Rep. Gail Finney, Mayor Brandon Whipple and City Manager Bob Layton. During this meeting, they discussed opportunities to address not only the northeast food desert but also food deserts across the City of Wichita.
“The collaboration between federal, state, and city officials is essential to resolving the food desert issue. I felt a sense of urgency from everyone on the call to get something done,” said Senator Goudeau.
In addition to the upcoming closing of the Save-A-Lot at 13th and Grove, the two other Save-A-Lot stores in Wichita have closed. Both of those were also located in lower income areas. The Save-A-Lot at Pawnee and George Washington Blvd., near the Plainview area closed last December . The Save-A-Lot at 1640 S. Broadway, which opened in 2017, was the last of the stores to open and the first to close.
Among the items being considered is using some of the Federal money received by the City as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to help address the city’s food deserts. Johnson said the City will also explore other creative ways to work with local entrepreneurs to address the issue.
Councilman Johnson called the meeting productive and hopes that by bringing private and public funds to the table there will be support for local entrepreneurs seeking to answer their communities needs. He vows to continue working at solutions and providing more updates in the near future.