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'Slap in the face': West end community calls for new grocery store

Some Russell residents said they're frustrated with continued announcements of new stores in other parts of the city, without investments in west Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After the news of a proposal to build a new grocery store in Eastern Jefferson County, some people in the west end are speaking out about their own lack of options. 

WHAS11 viewers flooded our social media inbox with comments, calling the area a "food desert" and begging for a new full service store. 

Rev. Jamesetta Ferguson, President of Molo Village in the Russell neighborhood, said west end residents have been advocating for better grocery options for years. 

“To have two large grocery stores directly across the street from one another, that is just a slap in the face," she said of east end developments

Ferguson said west Louisville is home to about 60,000 people, but just two full service grocery options. One is on West Broadway and another is in Portland. 

She said those stores require a bus trip or long walk for many, and others aren't able to make it at all. 

"It's not enough, there is no reason the local residents have to use a food pantry as their grocery store," Ferguson said. 

Simone Hicks, who has lived in Louisville for more than 20 years, said she's often left spending far more than she would like at gas stations and convenience stores.

"Bread is like four dollars at the filling station, and at Kroger is two or three dollars," she said. "That's a dollar you could put on something else you need." 

Ferguson said neighbors and community leaders have advocated for a new store for years to no avail. 

"We have always been told that it's just not economically feasible and that I don't get," she said. 

Steve McClain with the Kentucky Grocers and Convenience Store Association said big grocery chains may consider factors like population and job growth when deciding where to build. 

"Right or wrong that's what they're looking at," he said. 

He added chains may also think about which locations work for their own business models and the amount of disposable income in an area.

"Where are we going to go to be able to make a business go," he said. "It kind of feeds off each other, where they decide that they’re going to go and the population that comes after.”

Ferguson though said for west Louisville to grow and thrive people need access to quality and healthy food, noting that has an impact on health and life expectancy too. 

"We have to have the amenities there that people need in order for their families to be whole," she said.

Ferguson believes there would be demand for a new grocery store in the area. 

“Whether it is through subsidized purchasing or just direct purchasing, the bottom line is there are resources available from our residents available to purchase quality food," she said. 

Hicks added she and others she knows would certainly use a new store in their own neighborhood. 

"Oh my god it would make people so happy, and it would make a lot of money," she said.

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