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Alaskan and Proud to stock basics to the end

Posted: August 22, 2012 - 11:08pm
Suzanne Williams, manager of A&P's Ketchikan grocery stores, works at the Juneau store on Wednesday to help in the closing of the store. The company, which has been operating the grocery in the Foodland Shopping Center since the mid-1990's is closing on September 8.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Suzanne Williams, manager of A&P's Ketchikan grocery stores, works at the Juneau store on Wednesday to help in the closing of the store. The company, which has been operating the grocery in the Foodland Shopping Center since the mid-1990's is closing on September 8.

Alaskan and Proud grocery store plans to stock basic goods through at least September 8.

Pending a successful negotiation between Seattle-based grocer The Myers Group and the owners of the Foodland Center, (goo.gl/jF19a) the West Willoughby Avenue grocery location could reopen soon after.

However, until the uncertainty shakes out customers can expect to find shelves stocked with at least meat, vegetables, milk and baby formula, Alaskan and Proud’s Suzanne Williams said.

In a chance interview at the Alaskan and Proud on Wednesday Williams modestly referred to herself as Alaskan and Proud’s Department Manager. She also happens to co-own Alaskan and Proud with her husband Ben Williams, CEO of Ketchikan-based Williams Inc. The couple owns several Alaskan and Proud stores in Southeast Alaska.

Williams said at least two of Juneau’s A&P employees will make the move to the William’s store in Ketchikan.

“I just love my employees,” Williams said. “I can’t walk away knowing that there might be somebody that is just hanging out there with no job. That’s why we told the ones that could to come with us,” Williams said.

During the interview a customer waiting in line at the Espresso counter shouted “Suzy, how you doing? Long time no see. We are sad to see you go.”

Williams said she is in Juneau to oversee the transition, but also to be here for her employees as they face an uncertain work future.

“We wanted someone here to help,” Williams said, “to say ‘it is going to be okay.” She said she is finding jobs, like doing inventories and deep cleaning, to make sure employees get a full 40-hour work week.

“I want everybody to have their hours and make their way in life,” Williams said.

Worry over whether that there will be a grocery in the location after A&P leaves is not limited to employees though.

“My little grandmas, they come in constantly, I really want them to have a grocery store. A lot of people down here do not have a car, they can not go to the valley. They need this store. Out customers on Douglas, they need a store here,” Williams expressed.

Williams said if Myers Group takes over the space it probably won’t take over the grocer’s on-hand inventory. As such, A&P is slowly letting its inventory disappear from the shelves. However, she said she is trying to keep stuff that she thinks is most necessary, like dairy, meat and produce.

“Because we have children,” Williams said “I want to be sure that the babies have formula…that there is produce for the kids in their lunch.” Parents with WIC or Food Stamps can find eligible food at the grocery through Sept. 8, she said.

Everything is still a bit up in the air at this point, Williams said, but after Sept. 8, if the Myers Group doesn’t take over the grocery, A&P will start cleaning out the store space in preparation to turn it over back over to the Foodland Owners.

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

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