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Planned grocery closing hits workers, customers
Food Lion to shutter store on Browns Bridge Road Feb. 15
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Gainesville's Food Lion on Browns Bridge Road was gaining a loyal costumer with Sheryl Pittman before the chain announced Thursday the store would be closed with 112 others across the nation.

Pittman said she'd recently moved into the area and had come to the Browns Bridge Road store four weeks in a row because of the store's competitive prices. She said she's a little surprised it was closing since, to her, it always seemed to have steady business.

"I hate to see it go, really," she said.

Printed signs are taped on both entrances to the store announcing new store hours and the closing date of Feb. 15.

Another Food Lion in Jefferson is also closing after being lumped into the 113 stores the grocery chain called "underperforming."

The Food Lion store located on Enota Drive in Gainesville was not announced as one of the stores closing.

The closings will be a blow to the employees at each of the stores.

Food Lion spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said there are about 35 to 40 employees at the average store.

However, the Gainesville store's closing isn't likely a bad omen for the local economy as whole, said Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's a pretty isolated incident," she said. "Obviously, it was a national problem (with Food Lion), and they weren't looking at one market."

In its last release of jobless numbers, the Georgia Department of Labor reported regional unemployment at 7.7 percent. While not great, it's lower than the state's jobless rate of 9.3 percent.

Dunlap said she hasn't heard of trouble from other grocery businesses in the area. She explained there could be a variety of factors that led to the local Food Lion's demise, including bad location or other competition.

In all, Food Lion announced 29 locations in Georgia would close.

Nationwide, a total of 4,900 employees — including about 1,000 in Georgia — will lose their jobs.

There will be 27 stores to remain in Georgia, said Phillips-Brown, including seven in the Atlanta area.

The closings were part of a "brand-positioning strategy," she said.

 

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