Table Mesa King Soopers’ offers comfort in the wake of tragedy
On March 22, 2021 a gunman opened fire inside the Table Mesa King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, CO. The gunman killed 10, injured himself and one other, traumatized far more, and thrust grief onto Table Mesa and Boulder. What happened is close to my heart as I grew up shopping at this store with my mother and returned often on trips to see family.
The resulting crisis which King Soopers and parent Kroger faced is so intensely human that only informed management relying on human instinct and empathy could find good ways forward. No technology, extravagant data scheme or formula from a leadership book can supply answers needed in a time like this. Response also required understanding that acts this horrific stain even the physical location as humanity shrinks from places where violent death has occurred.
A year later, how have King Soopers and Kroger done? In a word: Superbly.
The store closed and the fenced site became a memorial. Eventually King Soopers invited public comment around moving forward with the store location — including ideas for design and to honor victims.
Spense Havlick, former Boulder City Council member, wrote in the Daily Camera, “Tremendous credit must be given to officials at King Soopers and Kroger for implementing these ideas and many more.” The store reopened last month.
Wondering about how King Soopers took care of its traumatized staff, I reached out through a Facebook group, which formed among those of us who shopped at the store as kids. Responses from employees were glowing — King Soopers had gone above and beyond. The company reports 50 percent of former staff are returning to the store.
These efforts are not about ROI — managers must do what needs to be done. It is refreshing to find that Kroger paid attention in a crisis while considering their whole responsibility — victims, employees, vendors and community — sharing in the grief while also delivering value to the neighborhood.
Too many companies shout “purpose” with shallowly adopted causes. Yet a grocery store’s purpose is so important it should need no other. And Kroger showed us that the purpose which matters more than any other is being responsible in times of crisis.
“With as much instability in the world today, there is an emotional comfort to be able to drop into a local grocery store where folks of all ages are welcome,” wrote Mr. Havlick.
I can’t imagine anything more meaningful.
- Spense Havlick: King Soopers one month after reopening: Our gathering place is back! – Daily Camera
- ‘Overjoyed’: Boulder welcomes Table Mesa King Soopers reopening – KDVR
- Some employees returning to reopened Table Mesa King Soopers – 9NEWS
- Boulder King Soopers planning to reopen, 50% employees returning following mass shooting – KRDO
- Boulder Facebook group promotes healing and reminiscing – KDVR
- King Soopers: Killed in the line of retail duty – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What lessons can be learned from how Table Mesa King Soopers responded to its crisis? How should grocery stores communicate their purpose to the communities they serve?