Shaw’s store seeking buyer

The closing of the supermarket Shaw’s marks the third store on Whalley Avenue, after Staples and Rite Aid, to shut its doors recently.
The closing of the supermarket Shaw’s marks the third store on Whalley Avenue, after Staples and Rite Aid, to shut its doors recently. Photo by Egidio DiBenedetto.

The only major grocery store near Yale will be closing its doors in just over a month unless a replacement chain can be found.

The Shaw’s supermarket on Whalley Avenue is slated to close at the end of March, the store’s parent company, Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc., announced Friday. Shaw’s departure follows the closure this past fall of two of other major Whalley Avenue retailers, a Rite Aid and a Staples not more than two blocks down the road from the supermarket. And unless a buyer steps forward, many New Haven residents, including Yalies, will be left without a chain grocery store within walking distance.

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Supervalu is closing all 18 of its Connecticut stores so the company can “operate more efficiently and effectively within a highly competitive retail environment,” Pete Van Helden, Supervalu’s executive vice president of retail operations, said in a press release. So far the company has reached agreements to sell five of its Connecticut stores to Stop & Shop and 11 to New Jersey-based Wakefern Food Corp., the wholesale retailer that operates both ShopRite and PriceRite supermarkets. But because a buyer has not yet been found for either the New Haven or Manchester, Conn., branches, both are scheduled to close March 31, Supervalu Communication Manager Dina Waxman said Sunday.

Sheila Masterson, executive director of the Whalley Avenue Special Services District, a private urban planning and consulting company that is currentlyhelping to find Shaw’s replacement, said that when the Shaw’s on Whalley Avenue opened in June 1998, it was one of the first major urban grocery stores in Connecticut, and that before its arrival, New Haven residents had to go all the way to West Haven for a major grocery store. Since it opened, the Whalley Avenue Shaw’s has been a fixture of the New Haven community, Masterson said.

“It was such shocking news when we found out Friday afternoon,” she said. “Shaw’s was a boon for the neighborhood when it first opened — it provided jobs, and its mission was to provide quality food at affordable prices.”

Masterson added that the store’s arrival was the result of a joint effort between the Whalley Avenue community and Yale.

University administrators from the Law School and School of Management helped to attract Shaw’s and develop the Whalley Avenue neighborhood, Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, associate vice president of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, said in an e-mail Sunday. Morand said Supervalu’s decision to close the New Haven supermarket does not reflect poorly on the economic stability of the Whalley Avenue area but rather is the result of “a broader national trend that includes consolidations, closures and sales.

Now, Masterson said she and her association are working to attract another supermarket chain to the property. As the March 31 deadline approaches, she said she hopes to use her “very strong partnership with the University” to “tap into [Yale’s] resources” and keep the store from becoming yet another vacant lot.

Her association has already begun brainstorming about how to remedy the “Shaw’s crisis” in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven, which was formed by Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs to help bring new businesses to the area, Masterson said.

“I’m sure Yale people will join with our neighbors to address current and future opportunities” Morand said in the e-mail.

News of the imminent closure of Shaw’s comes at a turbulent time for Whalley Avenue. Just last September and November, the Rite Aid and Staples not two blocks away from Shaw’s shuttered after the owner did not renew his lease on either property. No announcement has been made about what will be done with the former Staples and Rite Aid lots.

The Shaw’s closure also comes despite an $11.5 million refinancing of the Shaw’s Shopping Center, the Whalley Avenue complex where Shaw’s is located, just last year, in which Law School students oversaw the project and provided legal counsel.

Eight New Haven locals interviewed at Shaw’s on Sunday afternoon said they were disappointed the store will be closing and do not know where they will go to do their grocery shopping if it leaves without a replacement. Three Yale students interviewed said the closing is especially troubling because Shaw’s is the only supermarket to which Yale shuttles provide service.

Apart from local boutique grocers such as Gourmet Heaven on Broadway and Whalley Deli and Grocery on Whalley Avenue, community members will not have a major supermarket chain in the downtown area until the 27-story 360 State Street development is completed. The complex is expected to have a major grocery store on its ground level, but the exact company has not yet been named.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller, who said she does most of her grocery shopping at Shaw’s, lamented the closure.

“It’s such a terrible loss for downtown New Haven, whether you are a student or someone who lives in New Haven,” she said. “I would assume that students would feel a keen loss because of its easy accessibility to campus.”

The Whalley Avenue Shaw’s currently employs about 150 people and occupies 57,000 square feet of space.


  • yankees

    are you kidding. walking distance for yale students? right, a yale student walking up whalley ave. in new haven goin to shaws with money in their pocket or pocketbook. now that is very dangerous. think about it. would you want your daughter or son walking up whalley ave with money in the i dont think so. its bad enough when you can see people lurking around town now right next to yale. i see it almost ever day.they look like a kid in a candy store watching the students walking around to book stores coffee shops etc. etc. there are some real nuts around now. and i think the yale police are doing pretty much a good job. but you can almost feel that one day something bad is goin to happen. YALE STUDENTS PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN WALKING. OK. THANK YOU.

  • Wow

    Some people do it all the time, yank. It’s three or four blocks from central campus. That’s going to be tough to replace.

  • super

    @yankees: Total nonsense. How many Yale students in the last decade have been mugged on Whalley between campus and Shaws? I’d guess it’s pretty close to zero. On that stretch of road I do often pass poor people and black people. Gasp!

    Still, I have to say that Shaw’s is pretty worthless.

  • Y ’12

    That Shaw’s was crappy anyways… I’ve been to their locations in other states, and they were much cleaner, larger and had a better selection.

    Maybe now we’ll get something better, or at least I hope we will. I don’t want to spend all my hard earned paycheck at G-Have, where price gouging and extortion are the norm.

  • Pikachu

    It was at 1:15am, but…

    “To the Members of the Yale Community:

    I write to let you know that a purse snatching occurred at the intersection of Howe Street and Whalley Avenue at 1:15 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, 2009. A graduate of the class of 2009 was approached by a male who ran up to her and grabbed her purse. No injuries were reported.”

  • sigh

    “Yale College Dean Mary Miller, who said she does most of her grocery shopping at Shaw’s, lamented the closure.”

    yea right! when the dean’s arent eating free at the cafes or union league.

    @yank, totally safe to walk, brightly lit. it’s the dark places you have to worry about. and shaw’s has some serious security, probably pressure from yale preventing an incident

  • Yale ’08

    Lived off Whalley undergrad for two years. Nothing particularly dangerous about Whalley compared to downtown. I’d say your chances of being mugged are the same or ironically worse downtown, since Yalies aren’t expected for up Whalley and thus not targeted.

    I loved living on Whalley. The Caribbean rest. are awesome and the people are very friendly. In sketchier parts you should just keep to yourself and you’ll be fine. If you can’t walk to Shaw’s by yourself, then life is going to be rough for you post-Yale.

  • observer

    The biggest concern should be for the residents of the area, many of whom walk or rely on public transportation to get to & from the store. There is no other affordable place nearby for people to buy fresh food, fruit, veggies, etc. This is huge problem in urban areas. Further info:

  • JE ’11

    Ugh. Where are those of us who live off-campus supposed to get groceries now?

  • toosinbeymen

    This is going to be a disaster for New Haven and Yale. I shop at Shaws not becauuse it’s the best grocery but it’s more convenient and I’ve caught rides with the shuttle, a godsend. But it seems to be the trend for Whalley, Dixwell, etc.

    What are our alternatives?

  • yankees

    well a couple of the comments made me feel a little better thank you. i would just hate if something bad happened to a young bright student or anyone for that matter

  • Tanner

    I don’t think Shaw expected all those underclassmen to keep the store open. Don’t most students eat the Cafeteria’s? What Shaw was hoping for was the shoppers from the neighborhoods north and south of Whalley as well as the “liberal” homeowners from Westville and East Rock who would be glad to mingle with their inner-city brethren supporting and helping a Whitney’s commercial distract. But no I’m sure its more safer to head for the Amity Shopping Plaza or Hamden Plaza. Let’s face it when a Yale guest has to stay at the Marriot are warned not to turn left or cross over to the Popeye’s side of the street when they leave their Hotel.

  • Annie

    In the 6 years that I’ve been here I have to admit the service and produce at that Shaws have always been bad but I’ve never had a problem with my safety getting there and back. My concern is that the Howe, Dwight, Dixwell and Whalley neighborhoods will be severely affected by the closure because I can see many grad students moving on if there is no convenient grocery store. If this happens, then there will be a real security and safety issue to worry about.

  • JE ’13

    i am going to wait, and see what grocery store is going to open on the corner of state and chapel

  • Dwight resident

    That Shaws has bad produce and racist (i.e. anti-white) staff. But it’s the only supermarket everyone in the Dwight neighborhood can walk to, and there’s a huge number of grad and undergrad students here without cars. I guess this whole neighborhood is going to see a student exodus if there’s no supermarket close enough to walk to. East Rock, here I come.

  • Col Kurtz

    I stop in Shaw’s on occasion. It’s a convenient location. I wouldn’t go there after sunset,and the earlier the better.
    Nobody ever accosted me or tampered with my car , but i was moving fast.
    The selection wasn’t to bad, definitely not on par w/stop n shop, I’ve had stranger comments and more frightening incidents at a Stop n Shop.
    But i bet Shaw’s never imagined the cost of overtime to the police, unfortunately they were a necessary and will be a required part of any large grocery store that will be doing business there.
    Still, the police presence was creepy and gave my shopping experience a red terror alert status and aura. The police don’t want to hear how much money and stores were burgled on their watch.
    I wonder how much the store lost since its’ arrival to shoplifting and money mismanagement ?

  • Yale 08

    Relax everyone — for $10, Peapod (from Connecticut supermarket stronghold Stop & Shop) will deliver groceries right to your door without necessitating a visit to a somewhat higher-risk part of the city.

  • @ #15

    The racism comment is very accurate. I went in there a total of four times, even though it is very convenient to me. I did not go more often because the workers were very overt in their discourtesy toward white customers. I know black people encounter this in other circumstances. That does not make it right. And in a country where blacks are a minority, it’s a great way to put your employer out of business.

  • @ #17

    There’s a lot that Peapod doesn’t sell. Sad that Shaw’s is in this predicament. I guess I might be moving to East Rock too.

  • OnBoard

    I’m a middle aged white guy who shops at Shaw’s at least once a week. I’m really taken aback at the allegations of discriminatory, racist behavior directed against Whites. I’m not particularly liberal, and I can honestly say that I never experienced anything that remotely suggested that I was being discriminated against because I’m white. That being said some of the employees are definitely from the “Hood” and not the most polished. Just as I often wonder whether allegations of racism made by African Americans against white people misconstrue just general bad manners and unpleasantness on the part of a White person, I wonder whether the accusors in the earlier posts aren’t misconstruing bad training and “in the Hood” manners as racist.

  • bet

    I have to agree with Col Kurtz’s comment about the heavy security presence. It definitely can be mildly intimidating to lawful shoppers unaccostumed to it. Given the choice, I avoided it for that reason, but there were other reasons.

    The selection wasn’t great. The prices were not as good as S&S.

    As to the racism part. I have to say, in all the places I’ve ever lived, all but one of which has been highly diverse where I as white have been in the minority, i have never lived in a place with more overt anti-white racism as New Haven.

    I don’t know why necessarily that New Haven has this issue, and it does have it bad.

    I know that Farrakhan once had a church here, not sure if he still does. I doubt that explains all of it, but his church is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Group as a hate group and is one of the very very few Black groups on that list — most of the groups are white supremacist.

    Nation of Islam and the New Black Panthers are the only Black groups listed as hate groups on their list.

    Note that the Black Panthers disavow the New Black Panthers and apparently have not been keen on their using the BP name.

    But because it is sooo taboo to talk about the racism agaisnt whites in New Haven, I have had a hard time finding out why New Haven is particularly this way.

  • anonymous

    I recommend a shuttle to Edge of the Woods store on Whalley when Shaw’s closes. There is no meat, but has everything else, especially fabulous produce and is Kosher too. Thursday nights it has incredible, i mean incredibly good pizza, ordered to go.

  • Mike

    I grew up in New Haven. It’s my home town. I also went to Yale. I love both.

    You’d be crazy to walk from the back gate of D’port past Rudy’s at night. I suppose you have a very good chance of making it back and forth in broad daylight.

    Since you’re asking, for me it’s Sally’s except for the white clam, which is definitely Pepe’s.

  • anon

    everyone who is talking about how unsafe it is needs to have their heads checked. what is wrong with all of you? i was moving fast? get real, black people dont want to mug you because you are white morons.