Neighborhood grocery store closing
On the east side of town there’s a neighborhood grocery store that makes some shoppers think of older times, a place where area residents can stop in for a few quick items, a full week of groceries, or ready-made foods, seasoned superbly, for a fast, easy family dinner.
But the economy and last year's Tropical Storm Irene have taken their toll on the Beachside Supermarket on Melba Street, and the store will close as soon as the shelves are empty.
Signs saying that groceries are 50% off went up Monday, and shoppers started filling their carts with tuna fish, coffee, soups, breads, cereals, soaps and more.
The owner, who didn’t want to be named, said the economy and Irene made it especially hard for the neighborhood grocery store to make a profit in the past year. So when the building owner, John Lombard, said there might be another tenant interested in the lease, the owner sort of jumped at it, saying he needed a rest.
“Oh no, he didn’t force me out,” the owner said.
It was just timing, he added.
“We were closed seven days during Irene, and we lost a lot,” the owner said. “There was insurance to cover some of the loss, but not all of it.”
He said it was hard to come back from that loss.
The Lombards offered him a smaller space at the end of the complex that houses the supermarket. It’s about 4,000 square feet, roughly half the current location. The owner said he isn’t sure if he’ll take the space, but he thought it was nice of Lombard to offer.
The Beachside Supermarket has been in existence for nine years, opened by Glen Rega. The new owner bought the business from Rega about 2.5 years ago.
The Lombards had bigger plans for the small shopping plaza nine years ago. Ron Lombard had planned to move the Milford Diner to the location, and local artist Kathy Hammill painted a mural on walls that surround an open space within the plaza.
But the diner plans fell through, the area around the murals became overgrown, and the economy faltered.
Still, for the past years, the grocery store has been a little gem for neighbors.
Samuel Morrison was filling his shopping cart Monday and said he’s very disappointed the store is closing because it’s so convenient. He lives less than a mile a way.
“It is a shame,” Morrison said, “but I understand.”
Rachel Lane said she liked the store because it had ready-seasoned pork chops that she used to just put in the crock pot in the morning, and they’d be great at the end of the work day. The deli department had ready-made food, too, like stuffed cabbage, that was a big hit at her home.
The owner said he isn’t sure who is planning to move into the vacated store. Rumors have suggested it may be a dollar store, but he isn’t sure.
There are about eight full time employees and 10 to 15 part-time workers at the Beachside Market. Local high school students can often be found manning the cash registers there.
“They’re devastated,” said one woman who has worked at the store since it opened nine years ago. She didn’t want to be named either, but she shared easily, pointing out that there are many regular shoppers, and most are upset the store is closing.
Many have called the Lombard group to complain.
She said there are several gentlemen who get to the store each week by motorized scooters, and she thinks it will be especially hard for them to find a place so convenient to shop.