Store closes in Indianapolis food desert, community leaders fear for site safety


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

The Dollar General at 38th and College streets has announced its closure.

The folks at WRTV said it was a big hit for the area. The store is in a food desert, which means there is no grocery store within a mile.

Indy Food Policy, an organization that works for food access, says Indianapolis is one of America’s worst cities in terms of food deserts.

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

“There’s nothing within two or three miles,” Lewis said.

The Reverend Charles Harrison and other neighbors now say they believe crime is to blame for the closure.

“It must be because of the crime and the violence,” Harrison said. “I know people are scared to come to the store, especially at night, because of the history of thefts that have happened and people feel like it’s just not safe anymore.”

“I can definitely see that’s a possible reason why this is happening,” Harrison said.

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

WISP police records show that over the past 5 years, Dollar General has reported at least 99 robberies and/or robberies.

One of those thefts happened to Lisa Stewart.

It was robbed at gunpoint in September 2022.

“Once I realized what was going on, I was like that’s it and said a prayer,” Stewart said. “I saw the gun and he said ‘go behind the cash register and give me the money’.”

She said the man took the money himself and fled, adding that she was afraid he would kill her.

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

“You see a lot of blatant theft. Filling up a grocery cart, walking out the front door,” Stewart said. “Sometimes they come out the back door, the side door. Without any regard for anything, they’re not afraid.”

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

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

Stewart said he was told Dollar General was closing because the lease had not been renewed.

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

WRTV contacted Dollar General to find out the reason for the closure, a company official sent this statement.

Dollar General continually evaluates our stores and how best to 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 yet to receive a response.

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