It might be a little tougher to get your groceries come Feb. 15 if plans of parent company Penn Traffic Co. to close 13 Quality Markets in Western New York come to pass.
According to the Associated Press, Penn Traffic Co. has notified New York officials it will close its P&C and Quality Markets in upstate New York, resulting in the layoff of some 4,000 employees. The Penn Traffic Company and its primary subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Nov. 18.
In Northern Chautauqua County, that will mean residents in Dunkirk, Silver Creek, Westfield and Mayville will have one less shopping option. For city of Dunkirk residents it is nothing new; they lost the Fourth Street Quality Markets earlier this year, leaving one open at the D & F Plaza.
Mayor Richard Frey said his office was officially notified of the closing Friday by letter.
"It said in anticipation of closing they're selling off their assets. How many times have they been through bankruptcy?" Frey asked. "I heard rumors of this probably a year ago when the Fourth Street Quality was closing. I imagine it's pretty tough to compete with the big boys, Wal-Mart, Tops, Aldis."
According to Frey, downtown Dunkirk was fortunate.
"P & G has done a great job filling a void. You might pay a nickle more but call (owner Gary Damico) and he will deliver. It's a full-service supermarket," he said. "Pat (Damico) and Gary have invested in the city and we really appreciate that."
The outlook is not so good for local shoppers in Silver Creek and Westfield.
Westfield Mayor David Carr said the village may be getting hit with bad news a third time. Between its hospital's dealings with the state, and Renold Corp. being on strike, Carr said the closing of the store will add to the village's problems.
"If all three shut down it's going to really devastate Westfield," he said. "Quality is up to Benderson, the hospital is up to Albany and Renold is up to corporate headquarters in England.
"It's the only grocery store in town, the one in Mayville is going to close. That means that anyone who wants a quantity of groceries will have to go to Dunkirk, Jamestown or Erie. We have an elderly population, in the wintertime they have to hire somebody to take them to the store."
Carr does have some hope. When Benderson Development purchased the supermarket building some 18 months ago, Carr said he was told the building would always house a grocery store. Carr said he had been in contact with Benderson officials and they had a plan for the building, but it wasn't ready for public consumption yet.
"I'm depending on his word to make sure we have a grocery store," Carr said. " ... I've got my fingers crossed and I'm just hopeful we'll have a grocery store. I feel confident in what I've been told by Benderson, that we'll have a grocery store. I can't say the same for the hospital and Renold Corp."
Silver Creek needs to lose its only supermarket as much as it needs another flood.
"It's quite a blow, we have such a small village, that store provided a lot of shopping for this area," Silver Creek Village Trustee Anna Fredrickson said. " ... If you want to get just a couple of items ... it makes it very convenient for everyone. It's quite a blow. Our business district is becoming few and far between. We also lose 37 jobs in this area. We can only hope someone can come in here and take it over."
Fredrickson's concerns for the elderly echoed Carr's.
"The older people that don't drive, most of them are within walking distance of that place," she said of Quality. "You just can't do that going to Fredonia or Dunkirk. ... I know it's going to be very hard on the community, hard on the employees left behind. So many things you just take for granted. Sometimes, you get a wakeup call."
One of those employees who may be left behind was asked about the situation, but would only comment anonymously.
"We don't know anything right now, we're all just waiting it out, we're all in the same boat this time," the employee said. "We've heard a lot of rumors but nothing concrete."
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