NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A number of local communities are losing their neighborhood supermarket, leaving shoppers in the middle of what’s called a “food desert” – an urban area where it’s difficult to buy quality, fresh foods, in the neighborhood.
Fresh Pride stores are closing after years of service in the Hampton Roads community.
“I think it’s sad they are closed down,” said Norfolk resident Arthur Walker. “This is the closest meat market and vegetable stand we have.”
The company that owns Fresh Pride, Camellia Food Stores Incorporated, says Fresh Pride stores could no longer compete against big box retailers like WalMart and Food Lion. For residents who live at Calvert Square near Church Street, Fresh Pride was the only grocery store walking distance to their homes.
“Now I can’t walk here anymore,” said Walker. “I have to go to WalMart to do my shopping now.”
“I think it’s inconvenient that the store is closing,” said Fresh Pride shopper Pam Futrell. “It takes us further from home. Now we have to go to WalMart or Janaf Shopping Center.”
Businesses near the vacant Fresh Pride stores are also feeling the effect of the store closings. Tracie’s Beauty Supply and Hair store is next to the Fresh Pride on Sewell’s Point. The hair shop depended on Fresh Pride customers. Now they worry how they will keep their doors open.
“There is no one coming in and out of this parking lot,” said Tasha Walker. “Customers don’t know if anything is here since the Fresh Pride isn’t here.”
The grocery chain’s departure has caught the eyes of Norfolk city officials.
The city is working with the Economic Development Office to bring in a new retailer. They are also working with the Norfolk Redevelopment Housing Authority.
“We’re working with NRHA and the impacted communities about getting some transportation to get the residents to a food source,” said City Spokesman Bob Batcher.
City officials are also looking at ways to get fresh produce into communities near the vacant Fresh Pride stores.
“This idea is from the manager at Five Points Farmer Market,” said Batcher. “She is working with a food truck. It’s actually taking fresh produce into the community and teaching them how to use produce and how to prepare it.”