OKLAHOMA CITY – A northeast Oklahoma City supermarket is closing its doors for good Monday, leaving a sudden food desert in the community that relies on it.
“That’s going to be devastating to the community, I just don’t understand it,” said longtime customer Myra Myles. “This neighborhood depends on this store. Like I said I’m just at a loss for words. It makes no sense.”
Most people News 4 spoke to said they only just found out through word-of-mouth Tuesday and Wednesday that the Smart Saver on the corner of NE 23rd and Martin Luther King Boulevard is shuttering.
“They said, ‘We’re closing Monday, we’re not going to be open Monday,’ and so then today is Wednesday and so what do we do?” said Mt. Triumph Baptist Church pastor James Dorn. “How do we prepare for something like that?”
Pastor Dorn pointed out that the elderly in the nearby nursing home, as well as many in the surrounding area who don’t have access to transportation will be devastated without a grocery store.
“The vegetables, the fresh fruits, those things that we need so that we can be a healthy people, so that we can provide proper nutrition for our families, and now it’s not going to be here?” Dorn said. “Where do we go? How far do we have to drive?”
Across the street is a Family Dollar, and down the street is a Cash Saver, formerly called Otwell’s, that residents say has a limited selection of groceries, especially fresh foods and meat. Beyond that, other supermarkets are all miles away.
“We don’t have any choices here if they take this store,” said Alfred Walker, “and no one can tell us why they’re taking this store.”
The store is owned by the same company that owns Buy For Less and Uptown Grocer. On Wednesday, Simone Graves, who identifies on Facebook as the director of executive office to the CEO at Esperanza Realty, Uptown Grocer, Buy For Less, Super Mercado, and Smart Saver, said the corporate office is not ready to make a statement.
“It’s always busy in there, that’s why I’m not understanding what the problem is,” Myles said. “We need answers. Tell us why.”
News 4 reached out The Alliance for Economic Growth of Oklahoma City, The Black Chamber of Commerce, and Ward 7 councilwoman Nikki Nice for insight into the situation but has not heard back.