The Shoppers grocery store at Potomac Yard is one of four in the region that will be closing permanently, the grocery store’s ownership has announced.
The other stores that are closing are one in Manassas, and two in Maryland (one in Baltimore and one in Severn).
Shoppers has 26 other locations. The company says that 13 of those locations will be sold to other grocery store companies (operating under the Shoppers flag for the time being). That includes the Burke location at 9274 Old Keene Mill Road, which is being sold to Lidl, according to the local United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 union (UFCW 400).
The fate of the remaining 13 stores is uncertain, including the ones in Hybla Valley, Lorton and Manchester Lakes. For now, United Natural Foods, Inc. will continue to operate those stores while marketing them for eventual sale.
UNFI acquired Shoppers in 2018 primarily for the chain’s wholesale operations and started closing retail stores shortly after its acquisition.
The UFCW 400 union released a statement Friday criticizing UNFI for its reported silence on the closures until the announcement today, and the timing of its announcement. UFCW 400 represents 35,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
“We were shocked because this announcement has come after more than a year of silence from the company on its plans,” according to a statement from UFCW. “Even now, UNFI continues to refuse to provide any assurance to workers that their families will be taken care of after these stores are sold or closed. This is no way for a company to treat its employees or our communities, particularly during the holidays. Our union will do whatever it takes to ensure our members land on their feet.”
Shoppers began in 1949 as Jumbo Food Stores. According to its website, “Shoppers offers a full-service supermarket with everything consumers have come to expect from a grocer while never forgetting our ‘Everyday Low Warehouse Pricing’ roots.”
The grocery store is credited with many innovations common in supermarkets today, including selling produce by the pound.
“Today’s announcement reflects progress on our commitment to reduce UNFI’s retail footprint and marks another step toward transforming UNFI into North America’s premier food wholesaler,” said Steven L. Spinner, UNFI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in a company statement. “We believe that exiting the retail business will further accelerate our business transformation and allow us to more appropriately allocate resources toward long-term growth initiatives.”
The Potomac Yard store will be closing sometime between now and the end of February.
The entire Potomac Yard area is slated for massive redevelopment, including removal of the current movie theater, the addition of a new Metro station and redevelopment of the retail area that currently includes Target, Barnes & Noble and Shoppers.
This article originally ran in Alexandria Living Magazine, a regional magazine covering the businesses, events and issues affecting the dynamic and growing Alexandria area.