The former Kroger located at 2269 Lamar officially closed February 3, 2018. SuperLo Foods may open operations there as early as December 1. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

For the first time in its history, Kroger has chosen to donate an entire store. The Orange Mound building previously closed by Kroger has been donated to local competitor SuperLo Foods.

A group of corporate, community and political leaders gathered at the Kroger Delta Division headquarters on Ridgeway for the announcement that Orange Mound residents will be getting a SuperLo Foods store in the old Kroger building that closed 20 months ago. (Courtesy photo)

“Since becoming the president of Kroger Delta in February, it has been a priority for us to keep our promise to the City of Memphis and the Orange Mound community,” said Kroger Delta Division President Victor Smith from the company’s Delta Division headquarters on Ridgeway on Monday.

“Our promise and our purpose to Feed the Human Spirit is what we stand on today as we announce the donation of the former Kroger building in Orange Mound to SuperLo Foods. We ended the competition between us for a moment to support a city and community we truly love.”

Randy Stepherson, president and board chair of SuperLo Foods, said, “We are looking forward to coming into the Orange Mound community to service it. …We believe this is a great opportunity and we are happy to come to Orange Mound.”

The former Kroger located at 2269 Lamar officially closed February 3, 2018. Since the closing, Kroger officials have met over with local leaders, including Mayor Jim Strickland, Memphis City Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen (District 4), Rainbow PUSH Coalition representatives and Orange Mound community residents to help bring a grocer back to the area.

Swearengen noted the participation and contributions of the Strickland administration, particularly Ken Moody, along with the diligence of Kroger Delta Division Corporate Affairs Manager Teresa Dickerson, community organizations and spiritual leaders such as the Rev. Willie Ward Jr., pastor of Mt. Pisgah CME Church in Orange Mound, and Presiding Elder Peris J. Lester I of Mt. Olive CME Church.

“It takes a team, it takes a village, but we have been negotiating and collaborating to have a return of a full-service grocery store,” said Swearengen, who is seeking reelection.

Orange Mound resident Britney Thornton, who is challenging Swearengen for the District 4 Seat, took a different view of the transfer of the property to SuperLo.

“We must build beyond poverty,” Thornton said in a released statement. “The rich legacy of historic Orange Mound is being compromised by the transfer of major assets into the hands of lower quality stakeholders.”

The “people must be a part of the process,” Thornton said. “Leaders, who do not have to rely on substandard service providers, have not asked the opinion of the residents. We deserve better.”

Asserting that the city is “making huge strides to better serve the public,” Strickland said,  “And it is events like this that demonstrate that our people in our neighborhoods have strong momentum too.

“Orange Mound is a community with a rich history, proud neighbors and great Memphians. We’ve been working on this project for a long time. I’m so pleased that that team work is paying off.”

According to SuperLo Foods, their operations could begin as early as December 1, 2019 in their new building in Orange Mound.