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Store closes in Indianapolis food desert, community leaders cite safety concerns

Posted at 11:08 PM, Oct 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 11:23:03-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A store where many people living in a Northside community shop for food and other basic items is closing.

The Dollar General at 38th and College streets announced they will be closing.

People WRTV spoke to say it is a big hit for the area. The store is in a food desert, meaning there isn't a grocery store within at least a mile.

Indy Food Policy, an organization that works to provide access to food says Indianapolis is one of the worst American cities in terms of food deserts.

Mekhi Lewis goes to Dollar General to get food and says the closure is inconvenient.

"There's nothing within like two or three miles," Lewis said.

Reverend Charles Harrison and other neighbors are now saying they think crime is to blame for the closure.

"It has to be because of the crime and violence," Harrison said. "I know people are afraid to come to the store particularly at night time because of the history of the robberies that have been happening and people feel like it's just not safe anymore."

"I definitely can see that being a possible reason for why that is happening," Harrison said.

Harrison is the president of the TenPoint Coalition, an organization that works to curb violence in the area. He says Dollar General has seen its fair share of crime.

IMPD police records show that in the past 5-years Dollar General has reported at least 99 robberies and/or thefts.

One of those robberies happened to Lisa Stewart.

She was robbed at gunpoint in September of 2022.

"Once I realized what was happening I was like is this it and I said a prayer," Stewart said. "I saw the gun and he said 'go behind the register and give me the money'."

She said the man took the money himself and ran away, and added she was scared he was going to kill her.

Crimes like this are the reason employees at both Dollar General and Family Dollar in the area tell WRTV they close early.

"You see a lot of blatant thievery. Coming in filling up a grocery basket, walking out the front door," Stewart said. "Sometimes going out the back door, the side door. With just no regard for anything, they're not afraid."

Harrison said this business closure speaks to the impact crime can have on a city.

"You start to see the economic impact of crime. There is an economic impact," Harrison said. "We often talk about the shootings and the homicides but we don't see what the economic impact is on the community."

Stewart said she was told Dollar General was closing because the lease wasn't renewed.

Employees tell WRTV that Dollar General will be closing its doors in early December and everyone will be relocated to another location.

WRTV reached out to Dollar General for the reason behind the closure, a corporate official sent this statement.

Dollar General is continually evaluating our stores and how to best serve our customers. After careful consideration, we plan to close our location at 3837 North College Avenue in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Dollar General Corporation Public Relations

WRTV has asked for clarification and has not heard back yet.