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Locals lament A&P's coming demise

Plans for former Foodland site remain unclear

Posted: May 11, 2012 - 12:09am
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Jeanie Henry, a downtown resident and longtime A&P shopper, talks Thursday about the coming loss of a downtown grocery store.   Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Jeanie Henry, a downtown resident and longtime A&P shopper, talks Thursday about the coming loss of a downtown grocery store.

Long-time customers are lamenting the impending closure of downtown’s Alaskan & Proud Market, while current employees remain uncertain about what lies in store for the space the grocery now occupies.

“A lot of people are sad about it shutting down,” Alaskan and Proud store manager Sandi McDonald said.

Many of her customers live downtown, she said.

“They don’t want to have to catch the bus, they walk here,” McDonald said.

Visiting Lemon Creek and Mendenhall Valley stores is difficult for some, she said.

“Getting out there and driving in the winter is not good,” McDonald said.

Phai Giron, a Juneau resident for about two months, lives on Douglas Island.

He “will go to Fred Meyer if we need a lot of groceries,” Giron said. “If we just need something quick and easy we just come here.”

The location saves Giron on gas, travel and time, he said.

“It’s just right across the bridge,” Giron said.

Tanner Carver and Angelina Vest recently moved to Juneau from Utah.

“This is my second time visiting the store,” Vest said.

Carver said the location makes grocery shopping convenient.

“We walk around,” Carver said. “We don’t want to get a rental car, so if they get rid of this it would be hard to go to the grocery store. This is the only place around.”

“That is affordable,” Vest said.

“And we also like supporting the Juneau community,” Carver said.

“I’ll miss the store, my family will miss the store,” said Helen Burnett of Juneau

Juneau resident Jeanie Henry lives on Starr Hill. She said she normally drives to A&P, but in the winter she often walks before the snow plows reach her area.

“So it is very important to me to have a place that I can walk to that I can get the groceries,” Henry said. “Whether because of weather conditions or just because I choose to walk.”

Henry has shopped at the Willoughby location since 1974, “when it was Foodland,” Henry said.

“I’ve always made a point of shopping here, because I wanted to support a grocery store in this area,” Henry said.

McDonald has worked with A&P for 19 years. She moved to Alaska to manage the Ketchikan store.

“So I will return to Ketchikan,” McDonald said.

A&P is owned by Williams Inc. of Ketchikan.

What will happen with the rest of her employees is less clear. Most A&P employees plan to work until the store closes in September, McDonald said.

“I’m very impressed with the people up here.” McDonald said. “They are loyal to their company.”

Do they know whether a new employer will take over in September?

“Sadly we don’t know,” McDonald said. “The rumor mill is very abundant. In actuality we don’t know anything.”

Owners of the Foodland property have not ruled out the possibility that another grocer may take over the current store or a new grocery business may move in.

Long-time A&P employees are looking at retirement, McDonald said.

“So it is a good thing for them,” McDonald said.

McDonald said A&P plans to remain active in the community up to the end. The grocery store is hosting its annual March of Dimes event on Saturday.

“Even with announcing we are shutting down,” McDonald said. “We’re still giving to the community.”

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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