By Trevor Suffield
Nov. 27, 2008
Residents of the West End say they are upset with a decision by Canada Safeway to close its Ellice Avenue store.
Safeway recently announced that it will close its 1081 Ellice Ave. store near Wall Street on Dec. 10 to make way for a new retail outlet in Madison Square near Polo Park Shopping Centre.
The impending closure is sad news for area residents like Joanna Person, who has shopped at the grocery store since shortly after it opened 44 years ago.
“I’m very sad by the closing, and don’t know where to go now,” said Person, adding that she’s not likely to leave the area to search out another store.
Karleigh Cherwonick, who has lived in the area for about a year and a half, said she is concerned about what seniors in the neighbourhood will do.
“The older people in the area are upset about it,” said Cherwonick, who shops there twice a week with her 16-month-old son, Evan.
“There’s a pharmacy that’s convenient for them, because a lot of them walk here with carts.”
The closure of the Safeway store could lead to increased sales for some West End businesses. However, one storeowner says the impending closure is a negative as far as he is concerned.
Ignazio Scaletta, owner of Goodies Bake Shop on Ellice, said he is concerned about seniors in the neighbourhood who will have to travel much further to do their grocery shopping.
“It’s very sad. I feel for the people. They’re left stranded now,” said Scaletta, whose business has been located on Ellice for five years.
“I think that a store like that was an asset to the area, and now the people are being deprived of that.”
John Graham, public affairs manager for Canada Safeway, said the decision to close the store was the result of it under-performing in recent years and the fact the company is opening a new store in Madison Square.
“We looked at ways of redeveloping (the Ellice) store, and updating it to our new lifestyle experience that we’ve introduced to most of our other stores in Winnipeg,” said Graham, adding that wasn’t economically feasible.
Graham said said the company hopes customers in the West End will travel to the new store, but also acknowledged that they have a choice of where to shop.
Andrew Swan, the MLA for Minto, held a public meeting earlier this month to discuss the closure of the store and see what area residents want to take its place. Approximately 60 people attended the meeting.
“I was actually surprised by the strength of the response we received,” he Swan said.
Swan said the overwhelming consensus was that residents wanted Safeway to stay open. Since that’s not going to happen, “the people wanted to be sure there remains a full service grocery store,” he added.
Swan has been in contact with Safeway and is hopeful that the retailer will keep the community informed about what it plans to do with the site.
Graham said no final decision has been made yet regarding what will happen at the location.