The announcement of the closing of the Fairview Plaza Kroger at 1401 W. King St. attracted the expected reaction on social media. The extremes are sometimes comical, but also sadly predictable.
For some, the closing marks the latest in a series of events that are shoveling dirt on Decatur's coffin, and someone needs to be blamed. Others make predictions of the inevitable addition of another restaurant or video gaming structure, and some point to the areas of Decatur being abandoned by businesses.
That final point is the one that's most wrenching. Patrons of the Fairview Plaza Kroger like what it is, and some view it as a gathering spot for west side Decatur residents. Any time a big business closes, its clientele are going to be affected. The Fairview Plaza Kroger serves Millikin students and a number of elderly residents. While no one is suggesting there are more elderly patrons at the Fairview Plaza Kroger than at any other grocery store, one fact is Kroger was the primary grocery source for many on the west side. We've seen how picky grocery stores are right now about where they want to have locations in Decatur. As previous experiences with Jewel and Schnucks have shown, often when grocery stores leave a location, they're not big on worrying about coming back in another location.
Kroger announced it would try to place the Fairview Plaza employees at its three other stores in Decatur, which may help those workers but does little for the customers left standing on the outside. Kroger said in a statement that the Fairview Plaza store was not profitable and unlikely to become so. Its lease expires at the end of the month. Unless they decide to become more forthcoming, there's no telling whether that's exactly why they became the latest of a number of large and important Decatur stores to close, including Convey Health Solutions Inc. That company earlier this week announced plans to close its call center in Fairview Plaza at the end of September, affecting 150 employees.
Things change. Still, this is a miserable way to mark the location's 60th anniversary.
Shoppers at the Fairview Plaza Kroger on Thursday reacted with surprise, dismay and sadness to the news that the store would close at the end of August.