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ST. LOUIS - Vital Voice, a newspaper that caters to gays and lesbians, is urging its readers to boycott Schnucks, which has refused to stock the paper in its stores, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
"I believe that Schnucks continues to be very short-sighted when it comes to our community," Vital Voice publisher Pamela Schneider said in a statement published in her newspaper Friday. "Schnucks would never consider not carrying the St. Louis American. They know the African American community is a vital customer. However, I really don't think they realize the economic impact our community has on them. If we were to take our business elsewhere, would they notice?"
Schnucks Markets Inc. spokeswoman Lori Willis said the supermarket values all its customers. "It was certainly not our intent to place a value judgment on the Vital Voice or to be critical in any way," she said, adding that the same criteria is used in determining what free publications are stocked in Schnucks stores. Because space is limited, the company considers a particular publication's range of distribution and whether content would appeal to a wide audience, Willis said.
Vital Voice asked Schnucks to reconsider its decision. The paper's editor, Nancy Larson, said readers had requested that the newspaper be available in grocery stores.
Schnucks said it had a 10-member panel of its employees from various departments review six issues of the Vital Voice. It's a free newspaper published twice a month and distributed to more than 100 locations in the St. Louis area, including bars, restaurants and bookstores.
The panel voted Dec. 16 that the Vital Voice should not be placed in Schnucks stores.
In her published statement, Schneider said that Vital Voice was "next on the list" for shelf space at Dierbergs markets. "Should we take our business there?" she wrote.
Dwayne Kelly, regional operations director for Trader Distribution Services, the company that stocks the free publications for Schnucks and Dierbergs, said Vital Voice is not next to go in Dierbergs stores.
"We have a list of publications that have shown interest," Kelly said. "When we have a pocket available, we'll review the list and see which best fits into our display."
Dierbergs spokesman Donna Bent said she was unaware of the rift between Schnucks and the Vital Voice and did not know if Dierbergs would agree to stock Vital Voice. She said the store looks at the credentials of every publication before it is allowed in.