West Haven ShopRite owner hoping to help workers displaced by closure

The West Haven ShopRite on Campbell Avenue.

The West Haven ShopRite on Campbell Avenue.

WEST HAVEN >> The owner of the West Haven ShopRite, which will close in July after 23 years, said he is hopeful about finding new jobs for many of those employees who will be out of work once the Campbell Avenue location closes.

Harry Garafalo, whose Milford company owns the West Haven ShopRite and five others, has said he hopes to find work for at least 80 of the 148 people who will be put out of work by the closing.

The combination of owning multiple stores and normal employee turnover will enable Garafalo Markets to find jobs for many of the West Haven employees without having to expand the company’s overall workforce, he said.

“We employ between 180 and 300 people at our other locations, so at any given time, we have jobs that are open,” Garafalo said.

“We’ve got people in West Haven who have worked for us for a long time and we’re hoping to find as many jobs for them as possible.”

The unionized workers at the West Haven supermarket are represented by Local 371, United Food and Commercial Workers, Westport.

Garafalo said he hopes to meet with union officials to work out the details of bringing West Haven employees to other supermarkets.

Garafalo said the decision to shut the West Haven supermarket was prompted by the store’s lease coming to an end, as well as other economic factors.

Garafalo Markets leases the space for the West Haven store from the family of the late Rueben Vine, a New Haven-area businessman whose Railroad Salvage store is next to the supermarket. Alan Vine, the late businessman’s son, was not immediately available for comment Friday.

West Haven Mayor Edward O’Brien said city officials tried to broker a last-ditch effort to keep the West Haven supermarket open, which proved unsuccessful.

“I think that it was just that both sides were too far apart to make it happen,” O’Brien said. “We’re still hoping that something might work out that will keep the ShopRite there. But if that doesn’t happen, we’re going to push very hard to bring in another supermarket because we really need one at that location.”

The mayor noted that a senior citizen housing complex and the University of New Haven campus are near the West Haven ShopRite.

Garafalo said he knows “the city really wants to have a supermarket there,” but wouldn’t commit to the possibility of reconsidering the planned closing.

O’Brien said if a deal can’t be worked out, city officials will pressure the Vine family to make improvements to the space where the ShopRite is located.

“That’s going to be critical if we’re trying to bring another supermarket there,” the mayor said.

Call Luther Turmelle at 203-680-9388.