The Super Valu grocery store in Port McNeill is closing Nov. 5.
That closure is going to put 15 people out of work and put the nearest President’s Choice products about 200 kilometres away in Campbell River.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Port McNeill Mayor Shirley Ackland, who only heard from Loblaws about the coming closure a couple of weeks ago.
“They didn’t come to the community,” Ackland added. “I find that to be problematic.”
Ackland added she has hopes that another grocery store might take its place – the community has had two grocers going back decades.
Employees were given eight weeks notice and severance packages, according to Loblaws.
“The store has been unprofitable for a number of years and we don’t expect it to turn around,” said spokesperson Catherine Thomas. “It wasn’t an easy decision,” Thomas added.
The closure will have consequences outside of Port McNeill, also hitting the Port Hardy Harvest Food Bank. Despite Super Valu’s small size, the grocer was a major donor to the Food Bank, along with its neighbour, the IGA. The stores’ donations are worth “in the six figures annually,” said Andy Cornell, the food bank’s manager.
“With the impending closure of Super Valu, we expect to experience a significant decrease in donated food,” Cornell said in an email.
“How much this will affect our programs remains to be seen, but clearly it is not a positive development.”
And some people’s palates and wallets will be left hurting from the loss of the President’s Choice brand, said local insurance broker Diane Forsberg, who has had two of her kids work at the supermarket. Leaving the store last month, Forsberg explained that Super Valu stocked bulk products she couldn’t get elsewhere. And her taste buds have grown fond of President’s Choice – “It just tastes better than Kraft,” she said.
“Besides the kids losing their jobs, it’s going to be a blow.”
One consolation is that Port McNeill’s IGA, which stands just across the parking lot from Super Valu, expects to start hiring as it takes over some of its old competitor’s business.
“Once they actually close down and we start getting busier, we definitely will be,” said Jordan Wills, IGA’s owner and manager.