An Open Letter to the Management at Fred Meyer in Ballard, Seattle, WA: My question is, why the guns?

You run a popular store that serves a diverse and prosperous community in North Seattle. Your inventory mix and pricing model are unique in this area, where the next comparable store means driving 20–40 minutes to the suburbs. For families like mine, with three young children, the burden of such a drive ensures our commitment to you.

We are so committed in fact, Google Now sends a notice every Saturday morning “Fred Meyer is just 8 minutes away in current traffic.” We head over with our reusable shopping bags, our baby in an infant car seat and our five and seven year old acting crazy in the back seat. We stop for coffee at the attached Starbucks where the manager, Barbara, knows our names and brings our sandwiches to the table, on plates.

Newly caffeinated we head to the store, grab a cart. Our five year old sitting up top, our seven year old hanging off the end, our baby carrier in the basket; another cart for groceries. Grab the list, and go…as quickly as possible, before one of the kids explodes, or cries etc.

This weekly ritual results in $200 to $500 in purchases per week at your Ballard location. You can verify this with my customer number 5037093410.

We have been doing this for the better part of seven years. And I have seen the changes. Boxes and carts piled up across the street with people sleeping under them. Dirty and poorly dressed people wandering the aisles. The bathroom doors removed or permanently locked open; the Salvation Army truck in the parking lot warning people not to dump trash. The needles and needle caps along the sidewalk and in the gutters. The empty liquor bottles abandoned along the parking lot sides. The drunk people wandering around. I read the news about a nine-year-old girl getting harassed by a homeless man and the ineffectual management response.

None of this has stopped me from coming to your store.

July 25th you added armed security guards employed by a private Security Company to stand watch at your entrances. They are dressed to look identical to Seattle Police department officers in heavy gear. They are dressed to intimidate, to detour.

My question is: why the guns?

I understand the need to have surveillance, security, monitoring and consequences.

I cannot understand the need to have loaded firearms around me, and my children while we shop for cereal, socks and lettuce.

I participate in a neighborhood network called NextDoor, where the topic of your armed security guards came up last week. During the discussion several shoppers made it clear that they intend to carry open firearms in the store to further ensure their protection due to the armed security guard situation. This set off a stream of controversy. The reaction was heated, and, it was scary. Kroger supports open carry of firearms by customers shopping in their stores.

Introducing guns changes the tone. It brings out the crazy.

I cannot reconcile the image of my children searching for a cart in your store….next to a man, carrying a gun. I cannot fathom how to explain to them that the “nice man in combat gear” is there for their protection. I cannot imagine being “okay” with a shopper next to me carrying a gun in the baby aisle.

The truth is, this won’t be happening. Because as much as I need your store and the services it provides, I will not be coming back unless you change your policies. I will not shop at a store with armed security guards, and citizens who are empowered to openly carry firearms.

I am not alone in my opinion. I am not alone in my discomfort.

Today I’m putting together an Amazon Prime Subscription order for my toilet paper and diapers and planning to complete my weekly grocery run at Safeway.

Not being able to go to your store has been a huge disruption to my life. But I feel strongly about it. If you notice a drop in revenues from your Ballard, Seattle, WA location, you may want to take a look at public opinion regarding armed security. I’ll take my money elsewhere until you change your policies.

Please consider removing the guns.

 Khaiersta English
 Mother of kids 6 mths, 5 and 7