Discuss Detroit Archives - January 2008 Lack of grocers prompts action Previous Next
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Sg9018
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Username: Sg9018

Post Number: 118
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Everybody here at Detroit Yes rembembers when Farmer jack closed and Detroit News had a article talking about the lack of national grocers in Detroit. The issue is back in the news again.
"A recently formed task force has city and business leaders joining together to answer an oft-asked question among Detroiters: Why aren't there more grocery stores in the city?"

The Detroit Fresh Food Access Initiative is trying to find ways to bring and keep full- scale grocers in Detroit city.
More info on some of the reasons why grocers does not go in to City and more on the leaders work.
In the Detroit news,
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pb cs.dll/article?AID=/20080107/B IZ/801070332
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W_6_mile
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Username: W_6_mile

Post Number: 47
Registered: 01-2008
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

F*^K a task force! Kroger tried! Meijer wouldnt dare! Wal-Mart would! KMart cant afford it! So who else will?
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Detroitrise
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Username: Detroitrise

Post Number: 1344
Registered: 09-2007
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Why not go for a chain from another region that's looking to expand?
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Rhymeswithrawk
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Username: Rhymeswithrawk

Post Number: 1090
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Detroit News had a article talking about the lack of national grocers in Detroit

Actually, that was the Freep that had that 2-part series.
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Lilpup
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Username: Lilpup

Post Number: 3266
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Why does it have to be a chain? Why can't they encourage independents to open?

Even Meijer and Kresge started out with just one store.
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Sg9018
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Username: Sg9018

Post Number: 119
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Detroit News had article too.
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pb cs.dll/article?AID=/20070705/M ETRO/707050349/1003
I do not remerber the Freep series thougth.
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Detroitrise
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Username: Detroitrise

Post Number: 1345
Registered: 09-2007
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It would contradict the thread if you asked that question Lilpup, as there are independent grocery stores all over Detroit.
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 2530
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Why doesn't anyone talk about the shrinkage problem that precludes a store from making a profit? No profit, no store. Period.
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Detroitnerd
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Username: Detroitnerd

Post Number: 1749
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 7:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Is this about that Seinfeld episode?
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Parkguy
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Username: Parkguy

Post Number: 198
Registered: 04-2007
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 8:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The grocery business is different than it used to be. They can't have a large proportion of patrons on food stamps-- they end up with two weeks of the month with no sales. Also, the major chains in this region only want to have huge square footage, which means expensive, which means they can only afford to locate along major highways on the fringes. Example: Meijer just opened a huge new store in a power center in Allen Park, along with other big box stores. In other cities, with different densities and different patterns of economic demographics, they will locate in central city locations, like on the first two floors of a multi-story building. Here, we are willing to drive 20 minutes to shop in a big box in the middle of a big parking lot. As long as we are willing, they'll give us exactly that. It is cheaper for them. And remember, the profit margin for groceries in the Metro Detroit region is among the lowest in the country.
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Frankg
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Username: Frankg

Post Number: 149
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 9:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This is free market capitalism at its best. There are no grocery stores in Detroit because the profit margins are not high enough. So there is no place for Detroit residents to get fresh fruits and vegetables - they have to eat potato chips and pork rinds instead. These people then develop health problems because their diet is so poor. So you and I end up paying higher Medicare taxes because our fellow citizens don't have the opportunity to eat right. In the meantime, the grocery stores rake in the cash hand over fist in other areas of the state. The end results: corporations maximize profits, Detroit citizens get screwed, and the rest of us subsidize the whole system.

I realize I am exaggerating a bit here, but not much.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4774
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 9:38 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There's plenty of fresh produce in SW Detroit. First, there's a produce terminal on Fort. But that's wholesale.

The groceries in SW Detroit are so plentiful, that the competition among them is fierce. For instance, I just went tonight for some salad fixings. The one store I hit had three large green bell peppers for a buck. The next store will sell three pounds of onions for 59 cents all week. Potatoes are 99 cents for 8 pounds.

The past two weeks spiral-sliced hams were priced at 99 cents per pound. Chicken breasts typically sell from 79 cents to $1.29 per pound--99 cents is fairly typical for the five major groceries.

Vernor Foods sometimes sells three dozen medium eggs for a buck. And let's not forget the brand-new produce store next to the Family Dollar. Their produce is by far the best but some items are cheap--like 99-cent pineapples or cabbage at 15 cent per pound, pork roast at 79 cents/pound. Some of their items are priced higher, but the quality is A-1.

If I were to head another mile or two further east on Vernor/Bagley, there's another four stores, not counting the smaller ones. One is also new, and there are spanking-new strip malls that haven't opened yet.

So, who's spreading all this nonsense about no food in Detroit? Perhaps, they don't ever enter SW Detroit.
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 3852
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 9:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^^^Oh good! So one small area of the city has access to healthy food. How short-sighted some people can be, ya know?
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4775
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 9:47 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

How short-sighted some people can be, ya know?

How true! The ignorant know-it-all in DC prefers to pay more for much less.

SW Detroit demonstrates capitalism at its best, BTW.
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Detroitrise
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Username: Detroitrise

Post Number: 1348
Registered: 09-2007
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 9:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, I agree Danindc, LY just thinks SW Detriot is paradise all around while the res tof Detoirt is a war zone. SW Detroit sure is paradise, a gangsta paradise that is...
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 3853
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 9:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If only inner-city grocery shopping were as simple as a string of slogans.
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Scooter2k7
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Username: Scooter2k7

Post Number: 46
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 10:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The lack of interest from major chains in the Farmer Jack locations drew criticism from some residents and city officials, including Councilwoman Monica Conyers. She accused Cincinnati-based Kroger of not operating in Detroit because a vast majority of the city's residents are black.

This is why companies like Kroger do not want to business in Detroit, because of ignorant Detroit politicans like Monica Conyers. Kroger has stores in Southfield, Flint, and Saginaw. If they do not do business in black neighborhoods, then why do they have stores in those cities? Also Cincinnati, their home base, is half black. Monica Conyers should not be so quick to make ridiculous claims without doing some research.
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Warriorfan
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Username: Warriorfan

Post Number: 874
Registered: 08-2005
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 10:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

From the article:

quote:

The lack of interest from major chains in the Farmer Jack locations drew criticism from some residents and city officials, including Councilwoman Monica Conyers. She accused Cincinnati-based Kroger of not operating in Detroit because a vast majority of the city's residents are black.




When in doubt, play the race card. If that's what she truly believes (that the decision is racial and not economic) then why doesn't Monica Conyers invest her own money and open a grocery store in the city? And then when the astronomical rates of shoplifting and shrinkage put her in the red and she is forced to close the store, we can all accuse HER of being racist against black people for not keeping a store open despite its unprofitability. Krogers and Farmer Jacks aren't running a charity, they are BUSINESSES and the only color they care about is green.
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 3854
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 10:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

And then when the astronomical rates of shoplifting and shrinkage put her in the red and she is forced to close the store, we can all accuse HER of being racist against black people for not keeping a store open despite its unprofitability. Krogers and Farmer Jacks aren't running a charity, they are BUSINESSES and the only color they care about is green.



I find it very hard to believe that theft alone is the reason for the lack of major grocers in Detroit. Yes, profit margins for grocery stores are very thin (typically about 1%). But how do grocery stores in other cities manage to make money--even in neighborhoods with high minority populations? We're not talking about Whole Foods or even Trader Joe's here. Frankly, I think a lot of this problem in Detroit has to do with the high degree of population and income dispersal.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 1031
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Monday, January 07, 2008 - 11:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Dan, it's that (what you said) and lack of security. The police don't take property crime seriously, as I've said elsewhere on this blog, and which is why I don't live in the City proper. People try to steal from stores everywhere, but in Detroit they mostly get completely away with it, because official Detroit doesn't give a shit.

Southwest Detroit - the part LY refers to, not the part you refer to, which isn't the same - is a functioning urban cluster of neighborhoods, and looks like you would expect the non-downtown part of any city anywhere to look. There are businesses of all types, pedestrians on the streets, people visiting each other on the stoop of their homes, and so on. So, among all the other businesses, there are in fact some very nice groceries.

I suspect part of the success of that area, compared to most of the rest of the City, has to do with neighbors watching out for each other and not trying to rely on the dysfunctional government to protect them. If that system was working elsewhere in Detroit, there'd be groceries and every other type of business. But it isn't.
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 3857
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 12:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Dan, it's that (what you said) and lack of security. The police don't take property crime seriously, as I've said elsewhere on this blog, and which is why I don't live in the City proper. People try to steal from stores everywhere, but in Detroit they mostly get completely away with it, because official Detroit doesn't give a shit.



That's unfortunate. Here in the District, almost every major grocery store has at least one security guard at the entrance/exit. When I first moved here, it was a bit disturbing, but then I found that even in fairly well-to-do neighborhoods, this is the case. Does it cost the store extra? Sure, but weigh that cost against the opportunity cost of theft. I'd rather see a security guard at the door than to not have a store at all.

quote:

Southwest Detroit - the part LY refers to, not the part you refer to, which isn't the same - is a functioning urban cluster of neighborhoods, and looks like you would expect the non-downtown part of any city anywhere to look. There are businesses of all types, pedestrians on the streets, people visiting each other on the stoop of their homes, and so on. So, among all the other businesses, there are in fact some very nice groceries.



I'm well aware of this. At the end of the day, though, SW Detroit only has a fraction of the City's population. There are still several hundred thousand other folks who do without a decent grocery store in their neighborhood, which I see as a basic need.

A friend of mine used to work at the Urban Institute, and contributed to a report on the lack of grocery stores (and hence, fresh healthy food) in inner city neighborhoods. I'll have to go back to it and find what they concluded were the causes.
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Professorscott
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Post Number: 1033
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 12:22 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks, Dan, I'd be interested to see the results of that report if you can come up with it. It is a very sad thing.
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Pjazz
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Username: Pjazz

Post Number: 106
Registered: 04-2005
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 12:37 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This initiative is a great start, and hopefully in the long run bring more grocers to the city.
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Crumbled_pavement
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Username: Crumbled_pavement

Post Number: 99
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 12:37 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

W_6_mile said: "F*^K a task force! Kroger tried! Meijer wouldnt dare! Wal-Mart would! KMart cant afford it! So who else will?"

Kmart has a store in the city that moved from a suburb. There are representatives from Kroger and Meijer on the task force. I think it is good that they are organizing a task force. There are too many people with their classic knee-jerk reactions that say it's because the city is predominently black or because shoplifting is high, but ignore plenty of other legitimate reasons such as location, permit fees, insurance, etc, etc. I wish people could think more critically than they have the ability to.

Edited because of grammatical errors

(Message edited by Crumbled_pavement on January 08, 2008)
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4776
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 12:41 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

AFAIK, none of the groceries in SW Detroit have any security guards or such, whereas the CVS and Rite-Aid stores usually do. This part of SW Detroit east of Dearborn is a mix of Caucasians, Hispanics, and Arabs, mostly. Probably for at least 90% of its population, anyway.

Shrinkage is the very least of those owners' problems. Competition is.
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Danindc
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Username: Danindc

Post Number: 3858
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 12:57 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

AFAIK, none of the groceries in SW Detroit have any security guards or such, whereas the CVS and Rite-Aid stores usually do. This part of SW Detroit east of Dearborn is a mix of Caucasians, Hispanics, and Arabs, mostly. Probably for at least 90% of its population, anyway.

Shrinkage is the very least of those owners' problems. Competition is.



I don't know that this is necessarily true, although it's plausible. After all, a person can only eat so much.

What I've noticed in DC is that the smaller, neighborhood-oriented groceries do not have security guards--they could never afford the fixed costs on their sales volumes. The chain stores--Safeway, Giant, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods--all have 'em, though. Even still, there have been a lot of new grocers opening shop in recent years, increasing the competition, which causes existing grocers to invest in upgrades (as opposed to losing money). Giant has opened new stores, including its largest DC store in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Trader Joe's opened about a year ago, and higher-end chain Harris Teeter is about to open a couple stores. Safeway has sunk money into remodeling existing stores in order to compete. It's kind of interesting to be able to get a cup of Starbucks and a bucket of chitlins in the same store.

A more appropriate comparison to Detroit would be Cleveland. But even Cleveland still has a far better presence of grocery stores in the city between Giant Eagle and local chain Dave's--not to mention the ridiculous new Wal Mart that just opened.

I suspect that in Detroit, the issue is more a lack of density of being able to support these stores, although this can't possibly hold for all areas, as some are most definitely densely populated enough.

I dunno. It doesn't seem like Detroit is going to realize much love from existing Michigan grocers. Farmer Jack had a bunk business plan. Meijer is most decidedly anti-urban. Kroger--I don't believe they have very many (if any) urban stores in their home state of Ohio. Maybe when Kwame goes to the retailers' convention in Vegas, he needs to start courting Safeway.... People do have to eat, ya know, no matter how much or how little money they make.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4777
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 1:14 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I was a (the?) mystery shopper for the failed Kroger's on Lappin and Gratiot, after I was recruited on my way back from my twice or thrice weekly late-morning nine-inning softball games in southern Macomb county. Got $24 for 45 minutes of work while shopping for myself and writing up the reports. That store was filthy, had evidence of grazing throughout most of the store, etc.

I seldom wrote up the employees (or the pharmacists) there except for its managers. They had me check out the Kroger's in GP as a control. But after I couldn't find anything really to write them up on, they had me stop after three visits and had me concentrate on the Lappin store. The GP store was so clean and waxed that literally eating off its floor wouldn't have been much of a problem.

The manager at the GP Kroger's would personally open up another register to help out whenever possible. The Lappin store had a bunch of suits and types where they (mal)trained their managers. What a joke! They just played "managers."

I already described some of that before. So, I don't care to reopen the litany of problems at Lappin. BTW, the brand-new Walgreen's right there also closed after being open for only a brief time--just like the Kroger's.

(Message edited by Livernoisyard on January 08, 2008)
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 1578
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 1:15 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Maybe they could convince one of the Chicago area chains, Jewel or Dominick's, to try out the market. Though Jewel is owned by SuperValu (Albertson's, Cub Foods, Save-A-Lot) and Dominick's is owned by Safeway.

Dominick's and Jewel both have experience in running urban grocery stores, and haven't been scared of opening/operating stores in "less-than-stellar" areas of Chicago.

There's also Cermak Produce, HarvesTime and a number of other quasi-local, yet big-box, stores.
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Detroitrise
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Username: Detroitrise

Post Number: 1350
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Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 8:36 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

LY, maybe the problem with grocers in Detroit is management, not shrinkage.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4780
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 8:58 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

In much of Detroit, shrinkage is a major concern. Kroger's on Lappin had both shrinkage and managerial ineptitude. If the managers at Kroger's had taken action there (and if Detroit treated crime as crime), the DPD might just as well have to locate their precinct there because they would rarely have reason to not be there.
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Thejesus
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Username: Thejesus

Post Number: 3190
Registered: 06-2006
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 9:05 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"How short-sighted some people can be, ya know?"

You want an example of people being short-sighted?

How about people taking a 5-finger discount at their local grocery store TODAY without giving any consideration to how their actions will result in the grocery store closing up shop TOMORROW...
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4781
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 9:24 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Kroger's there at 7 & Gratiot didn't have a lot of PR going for itself during the brief time-line it was open.There was quite a murder spree occurring on the East Side for four months or so, and the Detroit News labeled 7 and Gratiot as being the Murder Capital of Detroit.

Near 8 and Gratiot, my bank--Comerica--had an outside ATM, which I used 3 or 4 times a month. At about the same time of early afternoon on a weekday (when I might be there), this gang from Eastpointe assassinated an armored-truck worker with assault rifles there on a delivery.

So, that didn't help for business either on Gratiot at 7 or 8. The Detroit police caught the killers in near-record time. But not before the armored-truck attendant was murdered, though.

(Message edited by Livernoisyard on January 08, 2008)
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Kevgoblu
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Username: Kevgoblu

Post Number: 43
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 9:58 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've often wondered how a large store such as Kroger could operate stores in so close proximity with such huge disparities in condition.

Doesn't it go beyond individual store management? Doesn't it go beyond local clientle? Doesn't Kroger have a regional manager who says "this GP store looks great, but this store over on Lappin looks like 50 lbs of horsesh!t!"
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 4782
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Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 10:06 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The differences between the Kercheval and Lappin stores are obvious, even to an untrained eye. Expressing the major suspected reasons for those differences, however, isn't politically correct.
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Crumbled_pavement
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Username: Crumbled_pavement

Post Number: 100
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 3:16 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Kevgoblue said: "I've often wondered how a large store such as Kroger could operate stores in so close proximity with such huge disparities in condition.

Doesn't it go beyond individual store management? Doesn't it go beyond local clientle? Doesn't Kroger have a regional manager who says 'this GP store looks great, but this store over on Lappin looks like 50 lbs of horsesh!t!'"


Agreed. There is a Kroger right on 8 Mile in Royal Oak Township right across the street from Detroit. No way in the world does this represent a major difference from doing business inside of Detroit.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 6087
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 8:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

... except maybe policing/police response time... isn't RO Township policing done by the Oakland County Sheriff Department?
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Jt1
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Username: Jt1

Post Number: 11146
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2008 - 8:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yep, and it is the same place that allowed a gun shot victim to bleed in the streets for a long time until police from another department (Ferndale?) showed up since OCSD said they didn't have officers available.

Just another flaw in justifications.

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