Grocery store closure one more blow for Harbour Grace

Residents of Harbour Grace will have to leave town to grab groceries, Powell's Supermarket - the only grocery store in town closed for good on Monday.

Powell's Supermarket, the only grocery store in Harbour Grace, has closed

John Pritchett is the general manager of Powell's Supermarket, the local chain's Harbour Grace location closed on Monday. (Alyson Samson/CBC)

In the heart of most rural communities you'll find the basics: a bank, a post office, and a supermarket.

But this week in Harbour Grace, that changed.

The community's 3,000 residents are going to have to check off their shopping lists in the next town, after their community supermarket Powell's closed on Monday.

Transportation cutting into grocery budgets

"We have a lot of seniors in our community, a lot of people who walk to get their groceries at Powell's," said Don Coombs, Mayor of Harbour Grace.

Don Coombs is the mayor of Harbour Grace. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"I guess for these people that now have to get a taxi to go to another community, that money wasn't scheduled to be spent ... and that's going to have to come out of their grocery list," Coombs said.

The five-kilometre trek to Carbonear is a concern for a lot of people.

"Everybody depended on this store, I'm there everyday," Cindy Williams said.

Williams doesn't own a vehicle, she'll now have to rely on taxis and friends for transportation to Carbonear.

Cindy Williams was a regular customer at Powell's Supermarket in Harbour Grace (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"Well I was used to going over there day by day and getting what I wanted, now I probably got to make a list and make one trip, or two trips whenever I can get a ride, it's gonna be different," said Williams.

Not financially viable 

Since the closure of the Terra Nova Shoe Company in 2014 jobs in harbour Grace have been on the decline and so has the local economy.

Road realignments that take traffic around the town haven't helped either.

"If we go back 10 years ago the movement of the highway away from right here, that started a downward trend, we saw the shoe factory close and you know that was a good employer in the area," said Powell's general manager John Pritchett

"The stadium moving to the highway — we used to get a lot of traffic in our restaurant when kids would play hockey — and now there's no reason for a lot of people to come down to this area," he said.

Harbour Grace, once a hub of Coception Bay North, has seen a decline in recent years. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Powell's tried a number of business models to make its Harbour Grace location financially viable, but nothing worked.

"It's been struggling for a number of years," Pritchett said.

"We've tried things such as shutting down individual departments within the store, servicing some departments from other stores, reducing the number of items in the store, but ultimately as we evaluated the financials of the store we came to the conclusion that what we were doing wasn't working."

Powell's did say it will be upgrading online and telephone grocery ordering services for the Conception Bay North area to service people who cannot get out to their other locations in Bay Roberts and Carbonear.  

About the Author

Alyson Samson

Alyson Samson is a journalist working with the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador.