Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Letters to the Editor

December 18, 2012

Grocery store fix requires innovation

— — My husband and I have been residents of Bluefield for four years now. I felt compelled to write because from a newcomer’s perspective, it is truly saddening to read about the current fiasco that has occurred with the closing of the Kroger grocery store in the Bluefield Plaza.

There is blame to be shared all around — to the city for failure to entice Kroger with some sort of tax abatement which might have kept the store open; to Grant’s executives for failing to simultaneously secure a lease and negotiate with Kroger officials for the purchase of their equipment; and to the owner of Bluefield Plaza for putting their profit ahead of reaching out to all interested parties. Grant’s interest had been more than adequately publicized. In the end, K-VA-T did what any big business would have done — make sure that there would be no competition for at least five years in the immediate area of their current operation.

Unfortunately, it has had a great impact on the small business owners left at the nearly deserted business strip and for surrounding businesses on Cumberland Road. This is not a major city that can easily weather the economic impact that decision has brought.

The idea of a boycott of Food City might bring some response from K-VA-T officials, but in the meantime, why not approach Kmart Stores with some incentive to expand their store into a combination grocery and retail store, or contact a large secondary grocery chain such as ALDIS to visit our city and tour locations suitable for building one of their many stand-alone stores. They are currently in northern West Virginia and might be interested in expansion in our area.

Not only would the city benefit from taxes, but it would bring additional employment opportunities to our immediate area in both scenarios.

Our city needs to grow in order to flourish and out-of-the-box thinking is called for. We cannot continue to look back and relive the glory days of Bluefield. Until we entice our younger population to return and contribute to this area and offer both them and our retired population significant retail diversity to keep our spendable dollars in this area, we will continue on a downhill slide to become a bedroom community to Princeton. Will our city officials be able to do that?

Kathleen Hatcher


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