Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell
After a call last week to boycott discount retailer Family Dollar over cleanliness issues, that action has been averted – at least for the next two weeks.
The chain’s top brass met Tuesday (July 30) with pastors, who had been urged by community activist Patricia Rogers to denounce the retailer from their pulpits.
Prior to their meeting with store officials, members of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association (MBMA) held a press conference at Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church on Wellington in South Memphis. The afternoon meeting with Family Dollar at the South Perkins Rd. store location was closed to the public and the press.
Shelby County Environmental Court has cited Family Dollar stores 11 times, according to county records. The Mt. Moriah Rd. location has been shut down for extreme rat infestation, along with other unsanitary conditions. The Ridgemont Ave. store, along with Mt. Moriah, is scheduled for an August appearance in environmental court.
In an update about the closed-door meeting posted on Facebook, Rogers said, “Several pastors, health department representatives, Steve Shuler and yours truly met with the vice president of store operations … and two regional directors to address ongoing trash and garbage issues at area Family Dollar stores.
“The plan is very clear: Family Dollar must dispose of all trash and garbage at their stores within two weeks, including renting bigger dumpsters, scheduling additional weekly garbage pickups, building fences around dumpsters with locks and ongoing store inspections by the Shelby County Health Department.”
Rogers, a public relations professional, began a campaign against Family Dollar stores eight months ago, posting photos of piles of trash outside the stores and unsanitary conditions inside several days ago. Last week, she addressed a regularly scheduled meeting of the MBMA, where about 100 pastors were asked to encourage a boycott of the stores from the pulpit. Strong endorsements for boycotting were voiced last week among the pastors.
Apostle John L. Ragland III, pastor of Christian Fellowship in Memphis, said the ministers are eclectic and don’t agree on everything but are in agreement about “the power of the black spending dollar.”
Pastor Jerry Ivery of World Redeemers Outreach Ministries, said, “We don’t want to see these stores shut down. That would negatively impact our communities. Just respect our community. Although many of our people are low-income and working poor, give us the same regard you would give to a Germantown or Collierville community.”
Ivery said he’d never seen “any store of any name kept in the condition these stores are kept. They are sadly mistaken if they think we don’t care. Whatever it takes, we will be respected.”
Rogers also asserted through social media that the meeting included a discussion about “employee training, janitorial assistance, security at stores targeted for robberies, minority participation for contracts, community engagement and better wages for employees.”
The issues cited at local Family Dollar stores are systemic and characteristic of stores throughout the nation, she has said.
“When I started posting photos and comments on my Facebook page, I received messages from Detroit, Dallas and Louisville of communities in those cities having the very same problems with Family Dollar stores.”
This article originally appeared in the New Tri-State Defender