A small group of protesters gathered outside Sunday afternoon at the Ralphs in Marina Pacifica in Long Beach calling for a boycott of the Kroger Co. store there and its products in response to the company’s decision to close two of its lower-performing stores.
The national grocery company is closing one of its “long struggling” Ralphs stores, located at 3380 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal, and one Food 4 Less store, located at 2185 E. South St., in April, which will impact nearly 200 employees and may involve layoffs.
The closure announcement came just weeks after the Long Beach City Council passed a “hero pay” ordinance that would require large grocery stores to pay employees an extra $4 per hour for at least 120 days.
Many residents, as well as some city leaders, including Mayor Robert Garcia, have shown displeasure over Kroger’s decision to close the store.
“What we are witnessing right now is shameful,” said Garcia earlier this month. “This ‘hero pay’ is … to support the hardworking men and women that are in all our grocery stores across the city.”
“They can thank them in commercials, but why not in their wallets,” Koko Dodson, one of the protesters, said about Kroger.
An angry Martha Burke, said she was only at the Ralphs to use a gift card given to her. “I would not have shopped here unless I needed to [use the gift card]. I won’t be shopping here again.”
Other customers said that they understand the reason for the closure, and that if their local Ralphs had closed, they’d still have access to groceries in other supermarkets nearby.
“It kind of makes sense,” said shopper Darryl Briley about the closures. “There’s nobody in there.”
He said he thinks this is all just bad timing.
Protesters also joined another demonstration at the Food 4 Less on South Street later Sunday afternoon to protest against the closure of the store.
Juan Mereles, a protester outside the Food 4 Less, said in a phone call that this closure will cause a “food desert” in the North Long Beach area, affecting an “already marginalized community.”
“The surrounding community already has a hard time having access to healthy and affordable food, and this closure will make it even harder for them,” he said.