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Crown Food Mart
30 Apr 2014
Published To

Crown Food Mart is a chain of eight convenience stores located across both West St. Louis and the metro east region of Illinois. In many of the metro east area’s industrial suburbs, Crown Food Mart and similar convenience stores are the only places food can be purchased without commuting to a larger town. This is especially problematic due to the generally low nutrition value of Crown Food Mart’s offerings; most items are processed and prepackaged, there is a dearth of fresh produce, and the majority of sales are alcohol purchases. Small towns such as Brooklyn, Illinois that are dependent upon convenience stores for their grocery supplies are considered food deserts, urban areas lacking accessible and affordable good quality fresh food.

Crown Food Mart has received millions of dollars in tax breaks from the local government as a reward for creating jobs within metro east communities. These tax incentives are made possible by local taxpayers; however, Crown Food Mart’s Middle Eastern American owner primarily hires workers of his own ethnicity who commute from areas of West St. Louis rather than local workers from the predominantly African American communities where Crown Food Marts are located. As a result, the majority of money generated by Crown Food Marts is spent outside of the metro east region, rather than being reincorporated into the local economy. Most of Crown Food Mart’s stores are located in towns created as industrial suburbs, which have historically struggled with a lack of internal economic development; Crown Food Mart’s lack of contribution to local economic systems exacerbates this issue.

Crown Food Mart has also been embroiled in recent legal conflicts; in 2012, the St. Clair County government seized synthetic drugs labeled as Viagra from three separate Crown Food Mart locations. The chain was charged with 57 drug distribution and public nuisance crimes. In the same year, a fatal shooting took place outside an East St. Louis Crown Food Mart branch, leading the widow of the man shot to sue the chain for failing to provide a guard force outside the store, alert customers of potential danger, or prevent loitering. Since 2009, there have been at least five shootings in Crown Food Mart parking lots. While in general, East St. Louis is home to heavy surveillance—a system of watchtowers is visible in parking lots and along main streets throughout the town—Crown Food Mart does not provide its customers with any form of protective surveillance outside its stores. Surveillance indicates that the people being watched will be held accountable for their actions, and as such promotes civic good; the absence of surveillance outside Crown Food Marts demonstrates a lack of acceptance of the responsibility to protect their customers. In turn, Crown Food Mart has a surprising lack of online or public presence, making it difficult to find consolidated information about the chain. This absence of transparency prevents the public from surveying Crown Food Mart’s movements or holding the company accountable for its actions.

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