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Giant Eagle Inc. will close the doors of its two Toledo-area stores today, with very limited merchandise on hand.
“It sucks,” said Brian Chambers, a Perrysburg resident shopping Friday at the store on U.S. 20 in Rossford. “It is one of our favorite stores in Perrysburg.”
It was odd shopping, he said, with the majority of the store empty and the produce section wide open with no goods. From now on, he said, he will shop at the Meijer down the street. He has shopped at Giant Eagle for years, even when he lived in Genoa.
Giant Eagle announced in March that it would close its only two Toledo-area stores in May. Its stores at 9880 U.S. 20 in Rossford in the Crossroads Centre and at 6930 W. Central Ave. in Sylvania Township had 179 employees combined, most of whom worked part time.
The closing announcement surprised local political leaders and shoppers, but industry experts said it was not surprising as the chain had trouble gaining solid ground in metro Toledo, where grocery shopping is dominated by The Kroger Co., Meijer Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and some independent stores. The Rossford store opened in 2001, the Sylvania Township store opened about two years later.
Officials from Giant Eagle, based in Pittsburgh, gave little information when the closings were announced, saying the decision was made “only after careful consideration ... and after significant efforts to differentiate these stores in the marketplace.” The company said the workers would receive severance packages.
For weeks since the announcement, the stores have had big discounts to try to clear out remaining items. As the merchandise volume dwindled, aisles were blocked off in the stores and many supplies — particularly produce, meat, and other perishable items — were mostly gone on Friday in Rossford.
All perishables that remain unsold will be donated to regional food banks, and some nonperishables will be donated, according to a Giant Eagle spokesman.
Some nonperishable items will be trucked to other Giant Eagle stores. The company has stores in the Cleveland and Columbus areas.
Alice Kernz was at the Rossford store Friday to find shopping deals, such as batteries, which were marked 50 percent off.
She lamented the closing because she used the reward credits for shopping there to receive the discounts on gas she bought at the store’s gas station. The gas pumps will close when the store does.
“It is weird with nothing here,” she said as she walked through the mostly empty aisles.
No store manager would comment, and employees were instructed not to discuss the closing with the media.
It is unclear what will happen to the two empty stores, both of which are in prime locations for retail.