Spartanburg residents without grocery store again, as Southside Piggly Wiggly closes soon

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 10:26 PM EDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - One year after opening, the Piggly Wiggly on the Southside of Spartanburg will close for good. For years, the community and city leaders worked to bring a grocer to the area because it was considered a food desert.

“When it finally opened, people were overjoyed to come here and to shop,” said Evelyn Blakley, a member of Southside Sankofa, a nonprofit.

Southside residents waited 3 years for a grocery store, but that joy didn’t last long. There is no official last day yet. But the store owner, Randy Burton says in just a few weeks the doors will close due to lack in sales.

“Of course we’re all very disappointed to receive this news, certainly not the outcome that that anyone sought,” said Chris Story, the Spartanburg City Manager.

The city and Mary Black Foundation provided a joint loan of $900,000 to open the store. It was supposed to be paid back over the next few years but now—

“We don’t anticipate receiving repayment for the investment that was made,” said Story.

Not even half of the investment has been paid back. Before ‘The Pig,’ was the Save-A-Lot which closed in 2019—making the area a food desert. The nearest grocers were nearly an hour walk away. Once again, the Southside will be in the same dilemma. Residents like Toni Sutton, the founder of Southside Sankofa, shop at the store often.

“These people don’t have cars, they walk back and forth to the store so we still need a way to get access to food,” she said.

Sutton and others say sales were likely low because the store lacked necessary items.

“Why weren’t your goods the things that these people want to buy?” asked Blakley.

Community leaders from several different organizations are planning to start a weekly food box giveaway and brainstorming other ideas too. The store is currently offering a 25% off sale.

“There’s no really grocery store for those that don’t have access to travel---that’s the issue, spend the resources on creating ways of more access to public transportation,” said James Jones. A Southside resident and local attorney.

Story says as of right now, there’s no clear path for what will happen to fill the loss.

The Mary Black Foundation provided this statement: “The Mary Black Foundation provided two loans to Spartanburg Development Corporation, totaling $900,000, for the purpose of opening a full-service grocery store on South Church Street. To date, all loan payments have been made on time. Our decision to provide the loans was driven by our mission to invest in people and communities for improved health and wellbeing, and by the voices of neighborhood residents who made a new grocery store in the Southside a top priority. We are proud of that investment, while also being very disappointed that the owner has decided to close the store. It is too early to know what future plans will be developed for that space, but we do know that the store’s closing leaves a gap in services. We remain committed to efforts that improve health and wellbeing, and we are open to opportunities to partner with others in the community to achieve that vision,” said Molly Talbot-Metz, President and CEO of Mary Black Foundation