Albertsons will close two Spokane grocery stores next month as a result of lower than desired sales, company officials said.
Feb. 25 is the last day of operations for Albertsons stores at 37th and Grand Boulevard in the Comstock neighborhood and at 12312 North Division St. in the Wandermere Mall.
“Despite the best efforts of the store teams, we have been unable to reposition the stores to better compete in the market place, and following an extensive review, we have made the difficult decision to close the stores,” said Sara Osborne, an Albertsons spokeswoman, in an email Monday.
The company plans to transfer as many employees as possible to other Albertsons and Safeway stores in the area, Osborne said. Albertsons also will close a store in Yakima.
Workers were told about the upcoming closures on Friday, and word trickled out to customers over the weekend.
“All of the customers in the checkout line were upset,” said Susan Jensen, a long-time customer of the Comstock Albertsons. “Everyone was standing around griping.”
Jensen lives two blocks from the grocery store. She walks to the store nearly every day for shopping and fills prescriptions at the store’s pharmacy.
“A big part of it is the staff,” Jensen said of her loyalty to the store. “I’ve always gotten great service. They’re cool people and I’m going to miss them. … Some of them were crying when they told me about the store closure.”
Jennifer Evans also said she’ll miss the Comstock Albertsons, which has been her favorite grocery store since she moved to the neighborhood 20 years ago. Most of the employees have worked there for years, including three special-needs baggers, she said.
“Every employee knows my kids, who are teenagers now,” Evans said. “It didn’t have that corporate feel to it.”
“I hope something of a like nature moves into the space, rather than something like Whole Foods,” said Chris Lang, another long-time shopper. “Most of the people living here wouldn’t be able to shop at Whole Foods.”
Albertsons officials did not respond to questions about the future of the store buildings.
The last time Albertsons closed a store in Spokane was in 2011, when its store on Northwest Boulevard, across the street from Safeway, was shuttered. The property remained vacant until Planet Fitness and a Goodwill thrift store remodeled and occupied the space last year.
Boise-based Albertsons, owned and operated by Cerberus Capital Management, is the second largest supermarket chain in North America after Kroger. It has 2,200 stores and more than 250,000 employees. The company more than doubled in size with its January 2015 merger with Safeway Inc.
Business editor Scott Maben contributed to this report.
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