GLENS FALLS — Mary White said the neighborhood will lose a part of its historical fabric, not just a retailer, when the Price Chopper supermarket at the corner of Dix Avenue and Cooper Street closes July 29.
“Everybody in that store, we’re like a big family. Everybody knows everybody and we’ve been going there for years,” said White, a longtime customer. “Everybody is just heartbroken over this.”
White, who has lived in the neighborhood all of her life, started circulating a petition door-to-door on Wednesday, hoping customers can convince corporate management to reverse its decision to close.
The company announced its decision to employees on Monday and to the public on Tuesday.
“I’ve got 65 signatures and I just got started,” said White, who contacted The Post-Star on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, city Councilman at-Large Dan Hall announced at the Common Council meeting on Tuesday evening that he is organizing an effort to recruit a new supermarket operator for the city’s East End, either at the Price Chopper building or some other location.
“I’m going to try to work on something on that,” said Hall, the Democratic candidate for mayor in November.
Recruitment will be a challenge, but a smaller “neighborhood type” supermarket could be feasible, said Edward Bartholomew, president of EDC Warren County.
“I think we’re going to kind of retro back a little bit to looking at some smaller, neighborhood-like concepts that principally dominated the city for so many years,” he said. “We’re at the very early stages here, certainly working to see what can be done.”
Bartholomew said he is disappointed Price Chopper gave such short notice of the closing.
“I’m disappointed that after all the years of customer service provided by our residents, that it was a short period of time to close. But that’s the reality, and we’ve got to deal with it,” he said.
Price Chopper, previously known as Central Market, has operated at the location for decades.
Central Market bought the property in 1938 from Arrow Grip Manufacturing Corp., an automobile equipment manufacturer, and opened the current store in 1959.
In a March 3, 1959, Post-Star report, Central Market touted its new modern store with 300 parking spaces as part of the company’s “Wonderama of 1959,” ushering in “one-stop” shopping with modern technology once only envisioned in science-fiction novels.
But what once was modern and spacious now is outdated and small in the era of superstores, and no longer fits with the company’s norm.
“It’s an old building. It needs a lot of upgrades. … I guess they just feel that the money they would have to put into it is not worth it,” said 1st Ward Councilman James Campinell. “A lot of very disappointed people here.”
Campinell, who grew up on Prospect Street, near the supermarket, said his father routinely walked to shop at the Price Chopper well into his 80s.
Many other neighborhood residents have long had that routine.
“I walk there every single day to pick up little bits here and there,” said White, who is circulating the petition. “I don’t drive.”
White lives on Uncas Street, about a 4-minute walk from Price Chopper.
Barbara Hartwell, who lives on McDonald Street, about four blocks away, said the smaller size of the store is convenient, not just the proximity.
“It’s convenient, and it’s small enough so that I don’t have to struggle to get through it from one end to the other to find what I’m looking for,” the 74-year-old said.
Some who live on the city’s East End, but beyond reasonable walking distance, take taxis to the Price Chopper and will have a larger fare to go elsewhere to shop, Campinell said.
Mayor Jack Diamond said the first step is for Bartholomew to evaluate the potential to reuse the approximately 2-acre property, assessed at about $1.1 million, that Price Chopper officials have said will be put up for sale.
“It’s a nice good parcel of land that he will have on his platter to accomplish,” Diamond said.
Bartholomew said he is waiting to hear back from Price Chopper about the asking price for the property and if there will be any deed restrictions, such as a prohibition on another supermarket locating there.
“We have to kind of gather a little more facts to assist the city in this effort,” he said.
Feasible uses of the property include retail, offices, apartments or a mixture of the three, as well as an industrial operation, Bartholomew said.
The new recruitment effort comes as the city has been attempting for several years — so far unsuccessfully — to recruit a downtown supermarket.
“We’ve combed around the world for supermarkets,” Bartholomew said.
Still, the local economy could support new grocery stores both in downtown and on the city’s East End if the stores are compact and had the right mix of merchandise, Bartholomew insisted.
“Certainly to have two large-size stores would not be viable,” he said.