South DeKalb County Market to replace former Kroger
The Candler Road Piggly Wiggly has a new look, a new name and a renewed commitment to the South DeKalb community. The changes follow a month-long picket by Operation Lead, the DeKalb SCLC and other community leaders who complained the 40-year-old store’s conditions and customer service were substandard.
Renamed DeKalb Supervalu Foods, the store will have a grand opening celebration for the community on July 20, said store owner Ken Hong.
Hong said he also has inked a deal to take over the space where Kroger operated in the Rainbow Village shopping plaza, located near Candler Road and I-20. The store closed on May 3 after Kroger and the property owner couldn’t reach an agreement on requested building improvements and lease modifications. Kroger had been in the community 38 years.
“The Kroger will become the South DeKalb County Market,” said Hong. “It will be similar to Kroger, but it will be improved. We want to give people the level of shopping they received at Kroger—but better.”
Hong said he is planning for the South DeKalb County Market grand opening to coincide with the heart of South DeKalb Festival that DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson is hosting on Sept. 28 to showcase South DeKalb’s history and accomplishments.
Meanwhile, Operation Lead President John Evans and DeKalb SCLC President Nathan Knight said their organizations are planning a march as part of the festivities that will be held July 20 grand opening of the DeKalb Supervalu Foods store. Evans and Knight met with Hong in late May to negotiate changes at the store.
“We are looking forward to July 20. We want to not only see the renovations, but more community involvement such as hiring high schoolers at the store and starting a scholarship fund,” Evans said.
Commissioner Johnson, who helped facilitate negotiations with the store, civil rights groups and the community, praised the remodeling efforts.
“We’re excited about all of the changes. Quality is what we want in South DeKalb. This is what we continue to strive for,” Johnson said.
Hong said he has spent about $98,000 so far on renovations and he expects the complete remodeling of the former Piggly Wiggly store to exceed $120,000. The out-of-pocket costs and his investment in the former Kroger store, he said, demonstrate his commitment to the South DeKalb community.
“I grew up in this area. My dad owned businesses here and I’ve worked here all my life,” Hong said. “We’re going to be here.”
Hong said he signed on with DeKalb Supervalu Foods on June 12 and immediately began upgrading equipment and reconfiguring store shelves and displays. The renovations include replacing the store’s meat coolers and freezers, installing an 8-foot salad case and 60-foot produce case, buying a new 50-foot dairy cooler and refurbishing the store’s checkout areas. He said had to close the store for two days because some of the work took longer than expected, but he wants customers to come on in before the official grand opening.
“This is a win-win for us and the community,” said Hong. “We’re very pleased with the remodeling that has taken place so far and everything that Supervalu Foods has to offer. It is very community-oriented. They’ve worked with us on the remodeling and the customer training.”
The new SuperValue DeKalb is located at 2112 Candler Road, Decatur.
Staff writer Joshua Smith contributed to this report.