The saga of the Utah supermarket wars continues this week with the closure of yet another grocery store.
IGA Super Center of Sandy, 8725 S. Highland Drive, is closing its doors after seven months in business. Store manager Richard Barton refused to discuss the reason for the store's closure but said it probably was different than the reason Skaggs is closing its Alpha Beta grocery stores next week."Everyone's case is a little bit different," Barton said. "I don't see any of them really connected."
While the impetus may vary, the results are the same. In the past several years, Safeway, Farmer Jack and Skaggs have pulled out of the Utah market. Dove's Happy Service went bankrupt.
The closure of the Sandy IGA does not foretell the closure of dozens of other IGAs in Utah. The store name stands for Independent Grocers Association and it means just that: Each store is independently owned, said John Condie, manager of the Rosepark IGA Super Center.
IGA is a national chain that sells its franchise to the grocery store owners. There also are IGA stores in Riverton, West Valley, West Jordan, Ogden and several smaller cities around the state.
The 53,000 square-foot Sandy store announced its closure last week but has given no date for terminating operations. "We stay open until everything is gone," Barton said. By Saturday afternoon, a third of the shelves already were bare.
Customers in the store were sorry to see it close. "I wonder if all we'll have left is Smith's," said one customer who refused to give her name. If stores continue to close, "I think prices are going to rise," she said. "Without the competition, there won't be any choice."
Shopper Pat Stevenson worries that such closures will eliminate the competition, too. "Over the long run, prices will probably go up," she said.
The Sandy IGA store has struggled since its June opening. The store was housed in the building formerly occupied by Farmer Jack's - one of several chains that has left Utah.
"I'm a regular Smith's shopper because they have everything I want," Stevenson said. "But I pop into IGA when I need something. That's what everyone has done. That's why it's going out of business. It was a weak store to begin with. But I'm sorry to see it close."
The store is advertising 20 percent off on all items with the deduction taken at the cash register. The distressed store honors cash only, offers no refunds and allows no returns.
Barton refused to say how many employees would be laid off. "I really don't want to talk about it."