Kroger returns Out & About to its racks

Monday, July 2, 2007 at 4:46pm

After a month of ire from Nashville’s gay and allied community, copies of Out & About Newspaper will soon be back on the racks of eight area Kroger stores, officials said today.

The select stores are located in ZIP code areas that have 300 or more subscribers to Out & About. The newspaper’s previous contract for distribution at Kroger included all 34 stores in the area, in addition to two Harris Teeter locations.

“Nashville is a diverse city, similar to Atlanta, Dallas and other major metropolitan areas,” said Lynn Marmer, Kroger’s Group Vice President of Corporate Affairs, in a statement today. “Having free special interest publications, for example for seniors, families with young children or the GLBT community, is a way of serving local interests.”

The trouble started last month, shortly after a contract was signed for Out and About -- a monthly newspaper serving the gay community – to rent distribution space at the free news racks of area Kroger and Harris Teeter stores. Out and About readers noticed that the newspapers had been pulled from the racks.

In mid-June, Out and About publisher Jerry Jones said he was told by representatives of DistribuTech, the company that leases free news rack space at Kroger and Harris Teeter, that the contract was ending. O&ANhad signed on to pay DistribuTech almost $1,800 monthly for space at the Kroger, Jones said. DistribuTech is a national chain based in Atlanta.

DistribuTech has drawn fire for the move, but said it was following the wishes of the Kroger and Harris Teeter chains. At the time, Kroger said in a statement that it doesn’t distribute publications that “promote political, religious, or other specific agendas.”

The issue has drawn the attention of national media, national organizations including the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Human Rights Campaign.

Christopher Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project, said he was pleased with the decision.

“This compromise is a victory for good business, dialogue and cooperation,” Sanders said. “The GLBT community negotiated from a position of strength and that contributed to the solution. We now hope Harris Teeter will do the right thing by returning Out & About Newspaper to its stores.”

For more information, read tomorrow’s City Paper.

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