CINCINNATI — The Kroger located in the 6400 block of Colerain Avenue closed its doors for good at 7 p.m. Tuesday night, effectively leaving the Mt. Airy neighborhood a food desert.
This latest store being shuttered comes almost three years to the date when the Kroger in Walnut Hills closed.
Mt. Airy Kroger customer Erica Boyd said she would visit the store at least once a week to "just come in quick or if my mother needed to do her baking."
Boyd said her Tuesday night visit to Kroger might be her last.
"It's really sad because there are a lot of people who depend on this particular location," Boyd said.
Angela Casagrande has been shopping at Mt. Airy Kroger for the past two decades, not because of the store's proximity to her house, but because of the people.
"I've heard many people as I've been walking down the aisles the last couple of weeks since they announced the closing talk about how much the staff means to them," Casagrande said.
It's a feeling those in Walnut Hills said they know all too well.
"Even though you know it's coming, it's still shocking and you have to find out, figure out what you're going to do," said Gary Dangel, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation food access coordinator.
Since the Kroger closed in Walnut Hills, the area has been a food desert, a term that refers to an urban area in which it difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.
"About 40% of the people that live here don't have public transportation," Dangel said. That means those residents have to take a bus, walk or rely on a friend for transportation.
Dangel said the neighborhood is still hoping another store opens close by. In the meantime, in the absence of a grocery store, Walnut Hills residents have turned to gardening and food delivery services to try and fill the void.
"In 2019, the Haile Foundation funded us to do a pilot program with Food Forest," Dangel said. "Food Forest is an app that you download on your phone. You order groceries, similar to like an Instacart or something like that."
Signs displayed on the windows of the closed Mt. Airy Kroger direct potential customers to the Monfort Heights or Colerain Marketplace stores -- both of which are nearly two miles away.
All employees were give the opportunity to transfer to other Kroger locations.