WINDSOR TERRACE — Nearly 100 Windsor Terrace residents gathered Monday night to prep for a battle to keep the neighborhood from losing its only grocery store. Their weapon of choice: magic markers.
In a meeting room at Holy Name of Jesus church on Prospect Park West, residents made dozens of signs they'll carry at a rally Wednesday morning outside the closed Key Food at 589 Prospect Ave., where national pharmacy chain Walgreens plans to open a store.
With colored pens they decorated placards with slogans such as, "Fresh Food is the Best Beauty Aid." The goal of Wednesday's rally is to show Walgreens that local residents aren't giving up in their fight to keep a supermarket at the site, organizers said.
Since the Key Food closed in late June, locals have mounted an aggressive campaign in hopes of convincing Walgreens to either back out of its deal to lease the space, or to share the building with a full-service grocery store stocked with fresh food.
"We need to save our community," said Windsor Terrace resident Jen Wilen as she wrote "Boycott Walgreens" in red ink on a piece of posterboard. "This has been devastating, especially for older community members."
Wilen, 33, said she can easily take the subway or a cab to find groceries at other Brooklyn supermarkets, but the neighborhood's many older residents, some of who have limited means or don't drive, have been left high and dry by the loss of the Key Food.
Wilen said she'd heard of one 78-year-old woman who trekked in the summer heat to the C Town on Ninth Street — more than a mile from the former Key Food — to do her shopping.
Using both online petitions and paper boycott pledges, organizers say they've collected roughly 3,000 signatures from locals who have vowed never to shop at the Walgreens. That figure amounts to about one third of the households in Windsor Terrace, said Community Board 7 member Ryan Lynch at Monday's meeting.
Organizers have also launched a "Green Beans Not Walgreens" website, printed posters for neighbors to hang in their windows, and created thousands of buttons to pin on shirts and purses.
"I've never seen a community response like this in such a short time, and I do advocacy work for a living," Lynch, who works at a transportation advocacy group, said at Monday's meeting.
A Walgreens representative could not be reached immediately for comment Tuesday morning, but a spokesman told DNAinfo New York in early July that the company would "continue to work with the community and respond to the needs of area residents."