Vigil Commemorates A Year Without Ukrop's

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Tuesday marks one year since supermarket giant Martin's took over Ukrop's and the grocer said it expects to become profitable by the end of this year.

We've covered vigils for murder victims, those who have been killed in car accidents or house fires, but Tuesday people will gather to light candles for a grocery store. They're commemorating a year without Ukrop's.

It's been a year of change for Richmond shoppers as a worldwide grocery giant replaced a Richmond institution.  Martin's regional V.P. admitted there were some growing pains, despite keeping most employees.

"Sometimes it's hard to follow in the legacy of Ukrop's supermarkets.  Ukrop's is just such a cornerstone of the city," said regional V.P. Jim Scanlon.

Some of the changes are more obvious to shoppers.  They include stores being open on Sunday and the sale of beer and wine.

The layout is a little different than the former Ukrop's stores but you'll still get a taste of the old brand.  Martin's sells Ukrop's Bakery and prepared foods.

Former Ukrop's worker Shaquna Battle explained being a Martin's employee is a different experience.

"It was more like a family oriented company so we were more comfortable with coming there and telling them our problems," said Battle.

One of Battle's bigger complaints is she thinks Martin's backed off community involvement.  Scanlon explained while you won't see Girl Scouts or the Salvation Army at the door, Martin's has filled in at the 10K and Angel Tree.

"We're not saying we're perfect. We're saying that we're going to continue to improve everyday," said Scanlon.

Scanlon maintained the numbers are on their side, with recent sales and customer counts on the rise.

Battle plans to speak at Tuesday's vigil.  The event may be more strategic than nostalgic. It's organized by the food workers union.  Right now, Kroger is the only unionized local chain.

Vigil organizers maintain they're not anti-Martins, they just think the chain can do better for Richmond.  The group will meet on the sidewalk in front of the Carytown Martin's at 5 o'clock.

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