The lost opportunity of St. Louis, MO
Posted in the Kroger Forum
#1 Jul 9, 2011
In 1986, the Kroger Co. announced that they were closing their Gateway Marketing Division. They pulled out due to "unprofitability" and fierce competition. This despite being up against much smaller local chains such as Schnucks, Shop N'Save, National and Dierbergs. The loss of the Kroger stores and their entire division was a blow to be sure but it was much more than that. They lost a powerful chance to establish themselves as the true king of supermarket share. Owning a bakery in STL as well as a Dairy just added to the disappointment. Schnucks wasn't all that big and National was foreign owned and their owners were not all that excited to even keep their American divisions. Shop N' Save and Dierbergs were also quite irrelevent to the overall competition that Kroger claimed that it faced. The end result? Kroger tucked tail and rain and sold off their stores. They ran from what again? The irony is that they "made" Schnucks and within 9 years National stores were no longer, having been gobbled up in a questionable buyout by Schnucks. The end result, in my opinion, has been lower quality in some items and certainly higher prices. Today Schnucks has 67 stores, Shop N' Save has 38 and Dierbergs a mere 23. Can regional, smaller chains competed against behemoth Walmart? Sure, but not on prices. Kroger had/has the capacity to do so with it's 2,400 stores, its 40 manufacturing plants and its iconic name recognition. But they left so now we in STL pay higher prices and have fewer options. It's ashame because Kroger could help save us in these difficult economic times but they fled, afraid. They could come back, of course, but will they? I, for one, pray so. They have that muscle to compete and provide their very high quality products. It would be a great day for the consumer in the STL Metro area. But, alas, here we are 25 years later lamenting the departure of one of the truly American greats. The same company who made its first long distance foray into another market outside Cincinnati (as in St. Louis)in 1912 is not here. The quality, the lower prices are enjoyed elsewhere. All that's left are the iconic, former Kroger store sites to remind us of what we're missing. Oh Kroger, come back home. Please come back to the place that was once home to your most profitable division. We miss you.
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