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Ralphs set to invest in local store


More than 30 leaders and members of neighborhood councils, block clubs and other community groups met Saturday with representatives from the Ralphs grocery chain to express concern about the future of some of the remaining stores in South Los Angeles.

What they found out is that the Ralphs at Manchester Avenue and Western Boulevard is not closing, and in fact is slated for an upgrade within the next 1 to 1 1/2 years.

The rumors of closure were a surprise to the Ralphs representatives as well.

Plans for the upgrade have been in the process for the last two years and are still being developed, but Kendra Doyel, group vice president Doyel said the company expects to add additional jobs once the remodel is complete much like what happened when the store at La Brea Avenue and Rodeo Road was modified.

That was an $18 million investment that came with 40 new jobs.

People attending the meeting also were given a little insight on why the company closed the locations at King Boulevard and Western Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road.

According to Doyel, between the locations the company was losing about a million dollars a year.

Doyel also indicated that the Rodeo store will not be a part of the new shopping center planned for the site in part because the Target slated to come in, will be selling groceries and food.

The location at 120th Street at Vermont Avenue recently finished a two-month remodel that was completed in May.

Doyel further noted that there are no plans to close any other stores locally through the end of the year. She said the company, as a standard practice, will re-evaluate store performance at the top of the year.

In addition to learning about the future of the Manchester/Western store, people attending the meeting were able to voice their wants and desires in what they wanted the new store to look like. Doyel assured that Ralphs has a history of working with community members to try to incorporate as many as of their ideas as feasible.

Among the concerns expressed at the meeting, which was held at the community room of the 77th Street Police Station, were insuring that temperatures in the diary section are kept low enough to keep products fresh and safe; meat and fish sections so close together that they omit a strong odor; aisles that are not wide enough for the disabled or elderly; a need for larger selection of vegetables and produce; and more attention paid to store cleanliness and parking lot lighting.

The residents also requested a bigger deli/baker section; the additional of a pharmacy and a bank, especially if the Bank of America across the street has to relocate.

Among the other concerns that will be addressed as the remodel plans progress are coordinating with the Metropolitan Transit Authority to better manage bus traffic at the stop outside the store’s western gates.