In three days, New Haven’s only major retail grocery store, Shaw’s on Whalley Avenue, will shut its doors for the last time. Community members say they are finding it difficult to find new places to buy their groceries and community organizations are coming up with ways to ease the strain.
But some other businesses are preparing for new customers.
The largest business whose sales are likely to benefit is Stop & Shop, which has six locations within four miles of New Haven, according to the store’s Web site.
Chris Negri, manager of the Dixwell Avenue Stop & Shop which is about 2½ miles from Shaw’s, said his branch is “definitely feeling the effects” of the supermarket’s closure. Negri declined to comment on how much business at the store has increased and deferred further comment to Stop & Shop spokespeople who did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The Shaw’s closing will also affect New Haven’s smaller grocers if it has not done so already, five managers and employees at local grocers said.
Adam Matlock, manager of the Whalley Avenue organic food store Edge of the Woods, which is located half a mile from the Shaw’s lot, said he has not noticed a spike in customers yet but that an increase is “very possible” because the two stores sell similar types of fresh produce. He attributed the lack of increase to the fact that Yalies were on vacation for the past two weeks, adding that he is unsure whether Edge of the Woods, known for being expensive, will lower its prices to attract customers who used to shop at Shaw’s.
Julio Olivar, an employee at Gourmet Heaven on Broadway, said the store has not seen an increase in sales recently and said that is likely because of the store’s notoriously high prices.
As these stores react to the closing of Shaw’s, so, too, are their customers. Ten Yale community members said they are beginning to go elsewhere for their groceries.
Elisabith Mallin ’11 said as Shaw’s wound down its operations over spring break, she did her grocery shopping at businesses closer to campus, including Gourmet Heaven. She said she enjoyed doing her own cooking in her in-suite kitchen in Swing Space when she could shop at Shaw’s. But, she said over dinner at the Hall of Graduate Studies dining hall, she now eats primarily in the dining halls.
Denis Zhernokleyev DIV ’10 said he did not shop regularly at the Whalley Avenue Shaw’s because a Stop & Shop is located closer to where he lives but he did appreciate going to Shaw’s on occasion because the store had lower prices than Stop & Shop.
Since a new tenant for the Shaw’s lot has not been found, the Dwight Community Management Team is working with Yale and city officials to find a full-service grocery store to replace Shaw’s and to keep residents provided with groceries when Shaw’s closes.
Linda Townsend-Maier, director of the Greater Dwight Development Corporation, said though a replacement for Shaw’s has been found yet, her organization wants to make sure local residents don’t lose interest in having a full scale grocer in the lot.
Her organization teamed up with Yale Law School students to create a survey that collected information about how residents used Shaw’s and what they want in replacement. The results of the survey will be presented at a community meeting March 30, she said.
In the interim, Townsend-Maier said the community management team is considering organizing a shuttle for Dwight community residents to nearby supermarkets and encouraging local residents to order their groceries online through a delivery service like Stop & Shop’s PeaPod.