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Final Albertsons grocery store in Gainesville to be closed

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Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 1:02 am | Updated: 1:25 am, Thu Aug 25, 2011.

Gainesville says goodbye to yet another big-name business as its last Albertsons plans to close its doors for good later this year.

After 35 years, the grocery store on 2323 NW 13th St. plans to close around Oct. 8, said Christine Wilcox, spokeswoman for Albertsons LLC.

The official date depends on the response to liquidation sales, which are scheduled to begin around Aug. 31.

Specific information on liquidation discounts wasn't available, but customers can expect a significant decrease in prices, she said.

Wilcox said she didn't know exactly when officials noticed the Gainesville location struggling, but there is a way to track such decline so they can make improvements.

Marketing or promotional strategies are sometimes revamped, but those strategies don't always work.

"When we determine that a store isn't profitable, we take every step we can to turn it around," Wilcox said. "Sometimes we're successful and sometimes we're not, and when we're not, we have to make tough decisions."

The store is one of three Albertsons in Florida scheduled to close, including one in Mount Dora and one in Tampa.

Two Texas locations will also close. Three more in the Lone Star State will be sold to H-E-B, a private, Texas-based supermarket.

Albertsons closed its other Gainesville location in 2008, selling it to Publix.

Albertsons LLC, formed in 2006, bought 660 surviving stores from Albertsons Inc.

The remaining of the 2,400 properties were sold to SuperValu and CVS.

The number of Albertsons nationwide will be cut to 209 this year.

The store's 88 employees were informed of the closing Friday.

Wilcox acknowledged this is a sensitive time for unemployment.

"The most important task right now is to communicate with our associates," Wilcox said.

She said options like severance packages and store transfers will be available to eligible employees who want to continue working with the company after the store closes.

The nearest Albertsons is in the Orlando area.

UF student Josh Weinberg, an 18-year-old biology major, was visiting the 13th Street location for the second time since his move to Gainesville. He doesn't consider himself an Albertsons regular but liked its proximity to campus.

He said he wasn't aware of the closing.

The news doesn't come as a surprise, though. He speculated the growth of superstores was to blame for Albertsons' decline.

"Certainly the Walmart right there isn't helpful," said Weinberg, gesturing to the superstore in the neighboring shopping center.

He's not sure where he'll do his grocery shopping once the store closes. Maybe Sam's Club, he said, which is just up the street at 2801 NW 13th St.

Other grocery stores in the area include family-owned Ward's Supermarket on 515 NW 23rd Ave., Save-A-Lot on 2605 NW 13th St., and a Publix a little further north at 3720 NW 13th St.

Devout customer Donna Scott, 45, of Gainesville, found out about the closing from an Albertsons employee on a recent shopping trip.

Scott said she did all her shopping at Albertsons when she lived in the Broward County area.

When she moved to Gainesville nearly 12 years ago, the 13th Street Albertsons was her staple.

She won't go anywhere else for her shrimp and her steaks, because nobody else, she says, has prices like Albertsons.

Scott said it seemed like the store was doing fine, and the news came as a shock.

"I hate that they're closing," Scott said. "They're going to be greatly missed."

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