Growing the desert - two Peoria Kroger stores to close - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Growing the desert - two Peoria Kroger stores to close

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -

Kroger is closing two Peoria stores. 

The Wisconsin Avenue and Harmon Highway locations will close at the end of January, according to the company. 

Spokesperson Eric Halvorson said they were not bringing in enough money.  

He knows both employees and shoppers are concerned, which is why they are working with employees to preserve as many jobs as possible. 

Halvorson and his team also plan to work with state legislators, hoping they can do something with the Wisconsin Avenue building since Kroger owns that building. 

Multiple shoppers and residents said this is a blow to both neighborhoods and some do not have transportation to get to other locations.

"Everyone don't have transportation (sic) to get around like other people so I don't think that that's right," stated Shardae Grayer. 

The stores will start closing portions as they run out of inventory, though the pharmacy will stay open until the end of January.

Halvorson said closing the stores is not a reflection on the people working there, but employee Adam Hartmen has not taken this news lightly. 

"I was devastated. I was sad because this was one of the best jobs I ever had," said Hartmen. 

About 150 employees will be impacted. 

"We don't want to talk about it as losing jobs because our ultimate goal is to find jobs within Kroger with our other stores in the neighborhood," stated Halvorson. 

Tim Riggenbach, who is on the Peoria City Council, said, "This is truly a punch in the gut for all of us in the neighborhood and it's just really a day we hope would never come," he stated.

Halvorson and his team tried saving the store with new pricing strategies, hoping the move would bring more shoppers in, but say that move failed.

"It's a difficult decision from a personal standpoint. We hate the adjustment this imposes on the workers but the pace of the loss has escalated in recent years and we simply can't keep these stores open anymore," said Halvorson. 

Nearby residents will have to drive a few miles for groceries. Councilman Riggenbach hopes there are other solutions.

"We respect the input of the citizens, the people who live here, who walk here, who shop here. Those are the people we're going to be reaching out to see what next steps we can take as a city," he said.

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