- Cornelius Frolik Staff Writer
Some community members are asking ALDI representatives to reconsider closing the West Dayton location, which they say would exacerbate an already troubling lack of access to fresh and healthy food items in the area.
Jamica Garrison, co-founder and board member of the community group Neighborhoods Over Politics, is encouraging community members write ALDI to ask company officials to rethink plans to shutter its store at 4303 W. Third St. in the Westown Shopping Center.
Garrison and others say many people who live in West Dayton and patronize ALDI do not have other options nearby to get buy reasonably priced and healthy food products.
Garrison said she believes it is not too late for ALDI to change course.
“I’m a person of great faith and I believe that God changes the heart of man,” she said. “So I believe it’s not over until it’s over — until we see the ‘closed’ sign on the door, there’s still hope.”
On Friday, Dayton officials announced that ALDI plans to shutter the Westown store.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said she was very disappointed that officials with the supermarket chain did not reach out to the city before deciding not to renew the lease.
She said ALDI officials could have started a conversation with the city and the community to try to figure out how to make that location viable and remain open.
ALDI representatives indicated that foot traffic was down, Whaley said, but the shopping center is 100 percent occupied and its owners say its customer base has been steady.
“To make the decision and just close with no communication to the community doesn’t show that they are good community partners,” Whaley said.
Residents who have vehicles will be able to drive to Kroger on West Siebenthaler Avenue, about 4 miles north of the shopping center, or other stores in the Dayton area, said Garrison, who regularly shops at the Westown location.
But residents who walk or ride the bus to ALDI will be hard pressed to find a replacement, she said.
Garrison said if ALDI representatives will not reconsider staying open, hopefully at very least company officials will give the community an explanation for why they are shutting down what to many people is an important business.
She urges community members to contact ALDI and express their support for keeping the business open.
If ALDI decides to leave, the city of Dayton and Westown hopefully will work with the community to find a suitable replacement for the business — not a retailer or grocer of lesser quality and products that does not offer fresh produce and other nutritional items, Garrison said.
“My hope is before a decision is made they have a townhall with residents to find out what they want,” she said.
Nathan Karn, who works at Westown center, said many ALDI customers come by bus to shop, and now they will have to travel much farther for groceries and will have to transport them much farther distances.
“It’s going to be devastating, especially because we have a lot of senior citizens come this way by bus,” he said.
Crystal Nash, 34, who lives on the west side, said she visits ALDI daily to buy food and meals .
She said ALDI is 15 minutes from her home by bus, which is really convenient, and she doesn’t know where she get groceries if it closes.
She may not be able to shop as frequently, which could make her trips more of a hassle.
“With me riding the bus, it may be more difficult because I would have to catch a cab if I were to get a whole lot of groceries,” she said.
Gloria Landis, 79, who lives outside Trotwood, says she has shopped at ALDI in the Westown center at least once a week for many years, dating back to its opening.
The store is a roughly 7-minute drive from her home.
Landis expects to patronize ALDI’s Englewood location because she likes the chain’s products and prices.
But, Landis said, the Westown ALDI serves a lower-income population and patrons who lack transportation may have a difficult time finding another place to get fresh produce and meats.