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Earth Fare employees and customers react to Tampa Bay area store closures

Pinellas County

SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) – Healthy foods grocer Earth Fare announced Monday they are closing all of their stores nationwide, including four right here in the Tampa Bay area. The stores are in Oldsmar, Lutz, Seminole and Lakewood Ranch and they will all be closing. It is sad news for fans of the store, but worse news for the people who work at them.

The store’s slogan is “Everyone’s healthy supermarket” but to employees, it’s more. Katie Dillon has worked at Earth Fare for 3 years. When Katie’s dad died 7-years-ago she began using drugs. This has been her recovery haven.

“It means a lot to me this place and the people, ” said Dillon. “They were my strength when I couldn’t be. They were my family.”

Many customers are sad to see the store close too. The closure of Earth Fare comes just weeks after the announcement that Lucky’s Market in St.Pete had to close.

8 On Your Side asked the Dean of the Business College at St. Petersburg College, Marta Przyborowski, why these small grocery chains are closing.

“Understanding your market, being where the customer is and understanding what the customer wants is key,” said Przyborowski. She said the bottom is the grocery retail market is competitive and already saturated with very established corporations. In addition, consumers are changing the way they shop by wanting more convenience, shopping online and having it delivered to their homes.

The news release from Earth Fare with the closing announcement said in part:

“The inventory liquidation sales will feature a truly outstanding assortment of merchandise at very significant price reductions.  We encourage shoppers to visit their nearby locations now and take advantage of these savings before it’s too late. Store fixtures are also available for sale as part of this process.”

Employees tell us they were told the store would be closing by the end of February. Many are still wondering exactly will this story shut down and what will take its place.

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