Why on earth is the Kroger at 600 12th Street closing? The store is a staple in the city of Lake Charles, LA and as a customer, I enjoy shopping there. The store is the perfect size, has an easy to access from the parking lot, and all of the workers are friendly and always eager the help. I don't know how old the store is, but I do know it's been there since the '80s. Kroger on 12th Street is one of the oldest grocery stores in the city.

It's one of the few stores that has every department:
Grocery
Atm
Bakery
Check Cashing
Self Checkout
Coin Star
Deli
Florist
Gas Station
Grocery
Liquor
Money Services
Bill Pay Services
Online Deli/Bakery Ordering
Pharmacy
Red Box
Western Union and much more!

How do you close a store that's always busy!? Did they do their homework before they made this decision? This is what Sparkle Anderson, Kroger Corporate Affairs Manager, told KPLC:

“We have made the very difficult decision to close the Kroger store located at 600 12th Street in Lake Charles, Louisiana when the lease expires in July. We carefully assess all alternatives before closing a store. Within the past several years, we have attempted measures to increase sales, profitability and the shopping experience at this location. We greatly appreciate the Lake Charles Associates and community. The approximately 79 Store Associates employed at this location will be offered positions at other nearby stores.”

This is the worst possible time for Kroger to close the 12th Street location because Lake Charles is in the middle of a boom. If anything, Kroger has every reason NOT TO CLOSE the store with the influx of new residents in the city. If they need to do anything, the store could stand an update. They could provide better lighting in the parking lot and fix the low spots in the back lot that hold water when it rains. Other than that, the store is fine. I couldn't believe my ears when KPLC TV News reported the store was going to close in July. It honestly hurt my heart, and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way. At the same time, I'm wondering if they did their homework because this is a really bad move on their part.

As far as closures go, it's bad enough that they closed the stores on Gerstner Memorial and McNeese Street, leaving MSU students with no cars and two huge neighborhoods, The Terrace and University high and dry. That left us with two Kroger stores in the entire city. Now we'll only have one?

Losing this store is going to have an even bigger impact on residents in the community, not to mention create another deserted storefront in the North and Central Lake Charles area. As a member of this community, I can tell you we have enough eye-sores( abandoned buildings, shopping strips, and bad roadways) in these areas already. We don't need another one! As reported on KPLC TVCraig Marks, President of the Lake Charles North Redevelopment Authority, pointed out funding in the city is severely unbalance. He said:

“You look at South Lake Charles and you say it’s extremely better than the North Lake Charles. Visitors coming in they’re going to migrate that way. And I don’t think that’s the way a city should be."

I have to agree with that. All the beautification, including hotels, restaurants, and roadwork is happening in South Lake Charles. There's such a difference that if you didn't know any better, you'd think you were in another city, but that's a story for another day.

However, the new Kroger is located on the corner of Country Club and Nelson Road, and is nearly nine miles away from the 12th Street location. It doesn't seem like much, but as nice as it is, it's way too far and too much trouble to reach. There's entirely too much traffic in the city, and it's horrible in South Lake Charles because that's where everything's at. That's a half-hour drive on a good day. With that said, the new Kroger might as well be in Texas, because no one from this side of town is going to shop there. It's too much trouble to get there.

People really need this store and it's sad that Kroger execs can't see that. I talked to several people while conducting my experiment, from the employees and management, to fellow customers and EVERYONE said the same thing. They hate to see the store go. They are in shock that the store is closing. Some of the workers said they were offered employment at the new location but most can't take the job because of travel issues. People are simply devastated that the store is closing.

Here's something else. There are hundreds of out-of-town workers in the city because there's so much work available. The 12th Street Kroger is one and a half miles from downtown, roughly five minutes away. There's a huge influx of house renovations, new buildings, and a variety of lofts and studio apartments popping up everywhere to keep up with our exploding population. On top of that, the Erdace Apartments are set to open this spring, and there will be at least 500 more people living in downtown once the high-end, 270-unit apartment complex opens its doors. Kroger stands to gain even more because there are NO GROCERY STORES IN DOWNTOWN LAKE CHARLES and only one gas station! It makes absolutely no sense for them to close this store.

Erdace Apartments
Erdace Apartments

I conducted a little experiment to see if maybe I was missing something. After all, I shop there for many reasons, but the main one is price. Nobody can beat Kroger's prices, and if you have a Kroger discount card, you save even more. I also have a small business, and it's a huge benefit for me to gas-up my company van at Kroger because I get ten cents off the gallon.

After hearing the store was going to close, I really started paying attention to the amount of business the store was getting each day. I actually pass the store or shop at the store every day because it's on the same street as my daughter's school. As no surprise, the store was full every time. Below are some pictures of the parking lot between 7:30am and 3:00pm on the days I went. 

I went for gas just the other day and had to wait because all the pumps were full! I find it hard to believe they're moving because they're losing money. Even if that's the case, with Erdace Apartments completion in a couple of months, Kroger will have more business then ever before.

If you feel the same, join me in trying to save the store! Time is running out with the store closing in thirty days. I don't know if we can make a difference, but all we can do is try.

Here's what I did. I called the Kroger Corporate Office (1-800-KRO-GERS or 1-800-576-4377) to issue a complaint about the store closure, sent an email from their comments page, and left a rating and post on their review page. (Yelp and Google.) I also started a petition PLEASE KEEP THE 12TH STREET KROGER OPEN. Please sign it and pass it on/share it with everyone you know.