AMHERST – The local business community was shocked and saddened with the announcement Thursday of the pending closure of the local Foodland store.
The loss of the grocery outlet will deal a major blow to the downtown after years of hard work and progress in the area, according to Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce president Gladys Coish.
“I’m devastated,” she said. “They just did a major renovation, of course, and are a big part of the downtown core. People have worked so hard to maintain activity downtown, and it’s really sad to be losing that supermarket.”
When she first heard the news that Sobeys was closing 50 stores across Canada, Coish said her first thought was of the Sobeys store at Amherst Centre Mall, and she never considered that Foodland would be threatened.
She said the closure would be particularly hard on the local seniors’ community, as the store is within walking distance for many seniors residing in the downtown area, including the Fort Cumberland Manor apartment complex.
“It’s an integral part of many seniors’ daily routines, walking to the local grocery store,” said Coish. “I see so many people chatting and interacting there, and the majority of shoppers are seniors. It’s really sad to be losing that.”
Mark Casey, chairman of the Downtown Amherst Business Advisory Committee, also took the news hard.
“It’s definitely a big blow for us,” he said. “We’ve been working hard to keep the government offices downtown, and this is very disappointing.”
The Foodland closure on July 6 will put 26 people out of work, and an empty building in the middle of the downtown core, although Casey is hopeful that the space will not stay vacant for long.
“It’s a central location, and a newly renovated space,” he said. “It will be a great opportunity for anyone who wants to move there.”
Coish, who referred to recent success stories in the downtown such as Buds to Blossoms, the Manasseh Market and the artisans’ markets at Dayle’s, said she would like to see a space downtown for mini boutiques, or a kiosk-type area for artisans who visit on a regular basis.
“But this is just sad, terrible and devastating to the community,” she said.