business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Denver Post has a fascinating story on what it says is a significant problem in its region - closed supermarkets that are leaving entire neighborhoods without food shopping options, a problem that local activists are trying to address through a variety of means.

Here is how the paper defines then problem (and a well-written lead it is):

“They're easy enough to spot all over town: The shuttered Safeways, with their swooping 1960s architecture; the converted former stores of chains long gone; the old Cub Foods stores. Some of them sit empty and crumbling, like the discarded husks of some lumbering animal.

“Others have been squeezed into new roles: stuffed with auto parts or office supplies or even church pews. A few of the ex-supermarkets are in suburbs and beyond. But most sit boarded up and graffiti-scrawled in the urban pockets that need grocery stores most.

Neighborhoods rise and fall. The kids grow up, the factory shuts down, the middle class moves on. So, too, the grocery stores that feed it.

Efforts to lure those groceries back are slowly gaining momentum, activists say. But to really succeed, to really get fresh, healthy food into nutrition-neglected neighborhoods labeled food deserts, will take leadership, creativity, a hefty helping of smaller-scale, smaller-volume stores, and an economic incentive or two.”

Among the concerns that retailers seem to have are those about security, the availability of a dependable workforce, and enough customer traffic to justify the opening of a new store. One company is identified as seeing opportunity where others see challenges: Supervalu, which has a number of Save-A-Lot limited assortment stores in the city’s tougher neighborhoods.
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