Giant's Alabama Avenue store in Ward 8 (Courtesy photo/MapQuest)
Giant's Alabama Avenue store in Ward 8 (Courtesy photo/MapQuest)

The recent announcement by Giant Food Corporation that its Alabama Avenue SE store in Ward 8 will no longer carry some national name brand products, there will be additional security guards patrolling the aisles, and customers will have to show a receipt to exit the store has made many ward residents uneasy.

“Great,” tweeted former Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education member Markus Batchelor on Sept. 3. “They’re not closing the store. They’re just not putting anything in it. In the nation’s capital, whole communities become deprived of basic essentials, while leaders underinvest and under-commit to lasting solutions.”

Giant has 165 locations in the District, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. It has sent out news releases indicating that it has not closed any stores. However, word of the Alabama Avenue location shuttering had D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and a group of community activists and leaders on Aug. 11 to urging Giant officials not to close the store and Ward 8 residents to respectfully patronize it without resorting to shoplifting and theft. 

The food corporation hasn’t announced such measures at its other stores. 

The Alabama Avenue location is the only full-service grocery store in Ward 8.

Ward 8 Expresses Outrage

Betty Scippio is a former advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 8. She strongly dislikes Giant’s latest moves.

“This is a slap in the face to the African American community,” Scippio said. “I believe this has more to do with the socio-economic situation in the area around the store. Our leaders should do something about this. Don’t get more wrong, it is not right to steal. But this store shouldn’t be singled out because there is a lot of theft in other stores in other wards.”

Robin McKinney represents single-member district 8A06 as an advisory neighborhood commissioner. McKinney is well aware of the Giant situation. She particularly singled out the company’s directive that national brands such as Tide detergent, Colgate toothpaste and Advil medicine are not sold in the store. Giant brands of those products will be offered to customers.

“I just hope their brands, Giant’s brands, stand up to the other products,” McKinney said.

The Rev. Wendy Hamilton serves as an advisory neighborhood commissioner for single-member district 8D06. Hamilton, 55, said she knew something was brewing when she heard about the possible closure of the store in August.

“There were rumors that they were going to close the store last month and the council member and others stood up and said, ‘you better not’,” she said. “This is the only full-service grocery store for 90,000 people.”

Hamilton said the talk of Giant’s departure comes in line with the recent closing of Good Food Market and the shuttering of Walgreens and Rite-Aid in the southern part of the ward. She noted that the CVS located near Eastover Shopping Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland no longer operates.

Hamilton speculates that an unspoken compromise is in effect, in that company officials won’t close the store, but will impose such restrictions to protect their bottom line rather than satisfy customers.

“I am not excusing the theft that is taking place, but I believe that is not the only issue,” she said. “I notice how the companies are taking their stores quietly out of the community. There is no other place in the city where this is taking place.”

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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