SP Foodland closes today

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2004

SOUTH POINT - Penny Stanley of South Point felt as if she said goodbye to an old friend Tuesday.

Stanley and many others in the community bid farewell to the South Point Foodland at 367 County Road 406 No. 3 as the business prepares to close its doors for good at 7 p.m. today.

"I have shopped here everyday for years and years," said Stanley, a 35-year resident of the community, who hoped the rumors weren't true. "I am real sad, terribly sad to see it go. It is a tragedy, actually."

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Many of the 40 to 45 employees have been transferred to one of seven other stores owned by Facemire Foods Inc. of Gassaway, W.Va.. Facemire bought the store in March 2002 from SuperValu but have decided it is not feasible to remain open in the current location.

Still, for longtime Foodland employees like Carolyn Wiley who will still have a job elsewhere, it has been a tough parting.

"I am very sad. I have been here a long time. I don't want to go anywhere. I want to stay right here," she said of the location that has been home to a grocery store for as long as many can remember. "I will miss the customers most of all. We had some great customers here."

The decision was made to close the South Point location because the current lease expired and Kmart wanted to nearly double the cost, said Doug Conant, part owner of Facemire Foods Inc.

"With a Super Wal-Mart down the street, there is no way a rate increase could be profitable," Conant said. "Super Wal-Mart hurt us some but if we could have negotiated a lower rent we probably could have stayed here."

While Facemire had hoped to reduce the lease, Kmart was adamant that the space was worth much more, Conant said.

"The people in the community have been good to us in the time we have owned it but there is no need to be in business if you are not trying to make money," he said.

Attempts to contact Kmart's corporate office were unsuccessful.

The idea of reopening elsewhere in South Point or Chesapeake was an option but lack of a suitable place made the proposition all but impossible.

"We just couldn't make the numbers work," Conant said.

For Chesapeake customers such as Charlie Baker and his 4-year-old daughter Katie, Tuesday was an opportunity to get some bargains and walk the now-barren aisles they had visited at least once a week.

"It was nice and convenient," Charlie Baker said. "We would just run down here and get what we need."

Now, that run will have to be a little farther.