Sobeys closing store on 104th Street

The store was opened to much fanfare in 2008 and has been since cited as a benchmark in the development of downtown Edmonton

The much-heralded benchmark of downtown development closing on July 31

Sobeys has announced that it is closing its store in downtown Edmonton on July 31 (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC News)

Sobeys has confirmed that its store at 104th Street and Jasper Avenue in downtown Edmonton is closing on July 31.

Company spokeswoman Keri Scobie told CBC News that store employees were told about the closure on Wednesday.

“We’re always reviewing our stores and the locations and the markets we’re in and the Jasper/104, unfortunately, at the end of the day, it just wasn’t financially viable for us to operate,” Scobie told Edmonton AM host Mark Connolly.

Sobeys opened the “urban concept” store to much fanfare in 2008.

The grocery store was tailored to the tastes of people populating newly-constructed condos in the downtown core by offering ready-made meals, an in-store cafe, and windows that opened to the street.

The store was seen as a benchmark in the development of 104th Street as it was the main tenant of the new building built to replace the decrepit Cecil Hotel.

Shauna Warwick, co-chair of the 104th Street Action Committee, said that the closure will have an effect on the entire area as proximity to a grocery store is a draw for people who want to live downtown. 

“Having that there is also an anchor for the other businesses on the street because people walk to get their groceries they're gonna walk by the other businesses and frequent them as well," she said. 

Coun. Ben Henderson says he was alarmed, disappointed and surprised by the news. 

“To my eyes, it’s been a huge success since the day it opened, it really doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Henderson said people move downtown so they can walk to amenities like grocery stores. He didn't know what the city could do to attract another grocery tenant like a Whole Foods because he doesn't know what went wrong with Sobeys. 

Tricia Bell, owner of Cavern, a cheese, coffee and wine bar on 104th Street, called the news disappointing.

Bell is unsure how the closure will affect her business. However, she said the food market in Edmonton is very competitive so she is sympathetic to Sobeys’ situation. 

“Let’s hope that something else of that magnitude steps in,” she said.

The grocery chain announced the closure of 50 under-performing stores across Canada on Thursday. Sobeys says that it is company policy not to say how many employees will be laid off as a result of the closures. 

Four stores will close in Edmonton: 

  • Urban Fresh at Jasper and 104st Street. Closing July 31 
  • Mainstreet Sobeys Mill Woods. Closing July 31
  • Clock IGA at 15445 Stony Plain Road. Closing July 10
  • Heritage Sobeys at 111st Street and 23rd Avenue. No firm closing date. Will stay open until the fall 

Meanwhile, CBC has confirmed that a new grocery story — Earth's General store — plans to open up on 104th Street in mid-July.