For nearly two decades, Edmondson Village Community Association President Monique Washington has been fighting to save her neighborhood grocery store. But this week, she lost the battle.

Giant Food announced Tuesday that it will close its location at 4624 Edmondson Ave., the only market within a mile’s distance of Edmondson Village, effective June 13. Though the West Baltimore community has been the site of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project and has seen city and private efforts to bolster investment in the area, residents will no longer be within a quarter-mile of a grocery store once Giant is gone — meaning their neighborhood qualifies as a food desert.

Washington was not surprised by the store’s decision to leave. Since starting her position in 2007, Washington says she’s hosted neighborhood talks and met with Giant representatives in an effort to solve the store’s theft problem. She’s advocated for better lighting and more security. She’s searched for community solutions to the lack of cleanliness in the aisles and said she complained about expired products.

Giant Communications and Community Manager Jonathan Arons did not respond to questions about the quality of the store’s products or issues with theft, but said in a statement that Edmondson Village customers’ needs would be meet with a new location on 4622 Wilkens Ave., about 3 miles south. That remodeled store, which reopens on June 7, will span 10,000 square feet with new amenities including a Starbucks.

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“All of our stores need to meet sales and financial benchmarks,” the statement said. “For some locations that are not meeting performance expectations, it’s best to consolidate the business, which we try to do with as little impact to our customers as possible.”

Workers at the Edmondson Avenue store were offered positions at the new location and customers will be able to transfer their prescriptions to the Wilkens Avenue pharmacy, according to another Giant statement. A representative for the local union chapter could not be reached.

Washington isn’t concerned about taking the drive down to Wilkens Avenue, but many of the residents in her community don’t have that luxury, she said.

“You have seniors that rely on the store — a lot of them don’t drive, they don’t have family that will get them there,” she said. “What are they supposed to do?”

Getting another grocer in the neighborhood seems unlikely, she said. The area has faced recurring violence, including a shooting in the Giant’s parking lot in March that left a 20-year-old injured. Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, a former president of Baltimore’s NAACP and a West Baltimore community leader, had also been advocating to keep the Giant and says he’s saddened to see the store go. He called the lack of grocers a growing problem within the city.

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David Smallwood, who is president of the Uplands Community Association, a neighborhood across the street from the Giant on Edmondson, said he’s concerned for his own neighbors who rely on the store. The most recent data available on the city’s website shows that in 2018 within District 8, a swath of the city which includes Edmondson Village and the Uplands, about 98% of people lived more than a quarter-mile from a grocery store.

Smallwood says there have been efforts to revitalize his neighborhood. Like Edmondson Village, the Uplands are also the site of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project, which the Baltimore Business Journal described as a “renewal for the community.” But he’s been similarly discouraged to see the investments have yet to come with the arrival of more vital businesses, like grocery stores.

“It’s businesses that help make a neighborhood,” he said. “I guess it’s about dollars and cents, but I think every neighborhood deserves to have a real market.”

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