Co-op grocery pushed out of Main Street location
Grocery store moved in just 2 years ago but building owner wouldn't renew lease
The Co-op grocery store on Main Street is closing its doors but not by choice.
General manager Doug Wiebe said the brokerage company that owns the building, between Polson and Luxton avenues, has refused to renew the lease.
The company told Wiebe it has lined up a new tenant, but didn't say who it is or when they're moving in.
The food section of the Co-op will close June 18 while the pharmacy will close June 30. The pharmacy is staying in the immediate area, however, moving just across Polson to a former Scotiabank, where it will reopen July 2.
There was nothing available in the area that would have allowed the grocery store to relocate and keep serving the neighbourhood, Wiebe said.
"We've got until June 30 to vacate and in that short time frame, we just don't have time to secure another property for a food store," he said.
Co-op took over the former Safeway location two years ago after Sobey's took over the Safeway chain and the federal Competition Bureau made it close some stores.
At that time, there were two years left on the lease of the Main Street building and Wiebe said Co-op just assumed it would be renewed. In fact, the store was set for some big renovations.
"A major expenditure of close to half a million dollars to upgrade that facility as well just to spruce it up," said Wiebe.
"So our plans were all moving forward to upgrade and enhance that facility, not to close it down. That wasn't in our cards."
He said Co-op also tried to buy the building outright from the brokerage company but was turned down.
The store faced new competition in the last year after Loblaws opened a No Frills discount grocery store just across Luxton, but Wiebe said that didn't have a huge impact on Co-op's business.
"No Frills definitely impacted our volume as we anticipated it would, but you know, we were holding our own. Our plans were to continue in that business for a longer term," he said.
Most of the grocery store's employees will be moved to other Co-op locations in the city, Wiebe said.
Some may not be mobile, though, so they will be looking for work, he said, while other positions will be phased out and those employees are being offered severance packages.