Hank McDade has been shopping at the Food Lion on Houston Road for about five years, and he is sad to hear the store is closing.
It’s one of 29 stores in Georgia slated to close within 30 days, including four in Middle Georgia -- Houston and Thomaston roads in Macon and Moody Road and Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins.
“It’s very convenient for me,” McDade said after finishing a shopping trip Thursday. “It’s going to knock a hole in the area for a lot of people shopping. It’s definitely going to be missed. It’s going to be quite a blow to shoppers.”
Food Lion’s parent company, Salisbury, N.C.-based Delhaize America announced Wednesday it was closing 113 underperforming stores, “primarily in markets in which the company has the least store density,” according to a news release. Also, it is closing other stores it owns, called Bloom and Bottom Dollar Food stores in various states, and it is converting some of those stores to Food Lion stores. After all the closures and conversions are completed, Food Lion will operate 1,127 stores in 10 states.
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As a result of all the closures, about 4,900 employees will be displaced. Stores typically employ about 35-40 people, said Christy Phillips-Brown, a company spokeswoman.
“Food Lion is focused on repositioning our business for future growth,” Cathy Green Burns, president of Food Lion, said in the release. “By closing underperforming stores, we will continue to position Food Lion for success, especially in light of our brand strategy results.”
A customer loading her car with a shopping cart full of groceries Thursday afternoon outside the Houston Road Food Lion in the Rutland Corners shopping center was surprised to hear about the pending closure.
“Wow,” said Maggie Greene, who lives within a half mile of the store. “We don’t like that. It’s really not good. We want it to be open.”
Customer Edie Grant also lives nearby and likes the convenience of the store. While sometimes the store didn’t have the variety Grant would like to have, she has shopped there about 15 years.
“I love the people here,” she said. “They are friendly. This is more convenient than the Kroger (on Hartley Bridge Road).
Cindy Eddie, owner of Hair Trends beauty salon next door to the Food Lion, said she was concerned about what the closure of the shopping center’s major store would mean to her business and other small businesses in the center.
“Anytime you have an anchor close it does affect your business,” said Eddie, who has been in the shopping center nine years. “I hate that. I am still in shock about it.”
Eddie also was concerned about the store’s employees, especially during a down economy, and that it might be tough for them to find other jobs.
According to the company release, it will provide severance to eligible associates and will work with government officials to assist them with transition support.
Delhaize America’s parent company, Delhaize Group, is based in Brussels, Belgium.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.