Baltimore supermarket chain Stop Shop and Save is closing its last four stores, according to a published report, which noted that as a result, some neighborhoods will be left without a local grocery store.
Willie Brown, store manager at the Harford Avenue Stop Shop and Save, told the Baltimore Sun that his store was the last left open in the city, and would close as well once its inventory had been sold off. Brown, a 27-year veteran of the company, added that he didn't know why the stores were closing. He was one of about 10 associates still employed by the minority-owned company, which has operated stores in the area since 1978. All of the other employees have already been laid off.
Stop Shop and Save didn't respond to a request for comment from Progressive Grocer.
A fifth location closed about a month ago, according to Jeremy Diamond, director of the Baltimore-based Diamond Marketing Group and a local industry observer.
"The company's sales have been dropping the past few years, since more chain stores and remodeled independent stores have been migrating to Baltimore City as the population grows," Diamond explained to PG. "Stop Shop and Save stores didn't have a niche. The stores catered to low-income neighborhoods and relied on the fact that it was an African-American-owned company." However, as Diamond pointed out, "Customers want the most value for their dollar, regardless of who owns their neighborhood grocery store."
As to the probability that the store sites will be taken over by other grocery operators, Diamond noted that the "locations are not the most desirable, which makes it easy for any grocer to wait until the Stop Shop and Save leases expire. Company-owned property has been selling at auction as well."
Owned by Rev. Henry Baines, the company had nearly 10 Baltimore City stores a few years ago and was once the largest minority-owned grocery chain in the area.