West Philadelphia ShopRite closes, cites soda tax

WEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A West Philadelphia neighborhood is losing one of its grocery stores Thursday.

The owner of the ShopRite on the 6700 block of Haverford Avenue said back in January that he would be closing the location.

Customers at the West Philadelphia ShopRite cleared out the shelves as they took advantage of steep discounts on everything in the store. But it was hardly cause of celebration.

"This was my market," said Regina Lyon of West Philadelphia.

"It was bitter sweet for me," said customer Shamika, "I came and I was shopping, but I was like, 'wow, this is sad.'"

Owner Jeff Brown blames the tax on soda and other sweetened beverages for a 23 percent loss in revenue. The mayor's office refutes this claims.

"This program is a failure. The revenue side of it is a failure," said Brown. "There's many, many other ways we can make up that one percent and teach our kids and have nice parks without destroying the grocery business."

The mayor's legislation funds pre-K and improves parks and recreation centers.

But the politics of it all are secondary to many of the residents here now faced with the challenge of finding ways to get a grocery store.

"I really feel bad for the elderly because you see a lot of them with their carts," said Lyon. "Now they have to find a way to go to 52nd Street to go to the market."

Brown says this area will now be a food desert with the loss of the stores. So he is actively working with other local grocers to try and put something in place for the older residents in the community.
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