2009-03-12 / Front Page

No Truth To Rumors Of Giant Closing

Company officials say "no plans to close here"

A spokesperson for Giant Food Stores last week addressed persistent rumors about the possible closing of the McConnellsburg store, saying, "We have absolutely no plans to close our McConnellsburg store. We look forward to offering quality, selection and savings to our Fulton County customers for many years to come."

The rumor was laid to rest by Tracy Pawelski, director of public and community relations for Giant Food Stores and Martin's Food Markets, whose corporate offices are headquartered in Carlisle. Pawelski addressed the rumors in response to questions posed to her by the "News."

Rumors of the store's closing have been circulating in the community for weeks, and Pawelski did not offer any ideas about the origin of the false rumors.

The 50,000-square-foot store, located south of McConnellsburg just off Route 522, opened in May 2005 as a 24-hour supermarket operation with a fueling island to the west of the store just off Route 522. The store also initially housed an in-store pharmacy but the pharmacy closed in January 2008. At that time, company officials cited lack of business as the reason for the closing of that portion of the store.

Then in April 2008, the BiLo supermarket, owned by Penn Traffic, closed its doors after anchoring the Penn's Village Shopping Center since 1990 when it took over the old IGA Foodliner. Calling it "an underperforming store," Penn Traffic's closing of the market left McConnellsburg with only one supermarket, the Giant Food Store. BiLo had enjoyed the status of the being the county's only supermarket since its opening in 1990 until the Giant opened in 2005. At this time, the 50,000-square-foot storefront remains vacant, although Penn's Village owner Michael Bard told the "News" this week that he is "very close to finalizing a deal with a grocery market chain to move into the vacant store." Penn Traffic technically holds the lease on the space until March 2010 but could negotiate out of the lease sooner, according to Bard.

According to a 2007 study published by the Food Institute in 2008, the top-10 grocery store chains in the United States in terms of sales in rank order were: 1) Wal-Mart (2,447 stores), headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas; 2) the Kroger Co. (3,269 stores), Cincinnati, Ohio; 3) Safeway Inc. (1,738 stores), Pleasanton, Calif.; 4) Costco Wholesale Group, (520 stores), Issaquah, Wash.; 5) SUPERVALU, Inc. (2,512 stores), Eden Prairie, Minn.; 6) Sam's Club (587 stores), Bentonville, Ark.; 7) Publix Super Markets, (928 stores), Lakeland, Fla. 8) Ahold USA, (721 stores), Quincy, Mass. (Ahold USA is the parent company of Giant Food Stores); 9) Delhaize America (1,551 stores), Salisbury. N.C. (parent company of Food Lion); and 10) H-E-Butt (337 stores), San Antonio, Texas.

According to the Giant Foods Web site, Ahold USA's Giant- Carlisle company operates 148 stores with a staff of 26,000 and had 2007 sales of $1.35 billion.

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