Safeway closes store at Big Lake

Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2001

WASILLA (AP) -- Safeway officials announced Friday they plan to shut down a store in the Big Lake mall that they inherited when they took over Carrs two years ago. The official closing date is Feb. 3.

The grocery store, which used to be the Big Lake Foodmart and more recently was marketed as an Eagle store, has been a fixture in the community for years.

''It's so awful handy for everyone,'' said Steve Totten, president of the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce. ''It's going to put a big hole in the community.''

Safeway district manager Joe Gulley said officials decided to close the store because of poor sales. Many residents are apparently buying their groceries in nearby Wasilla instead of at Big Lake, Gulley said.

''It was a combination of high overhead and a low population base,'' Gulley said. ''It just didn't add up.''

People treated the Big Lake store like an oversized convenience store, often picking up only a few items at a time, he said.

The store, at about 18,000 square feet, is the second smallest in the Safeway chain in Alaska. Only the store in Girdwood is smaller, he said.

The 14 employees who work at the store will be offered jobs at other stores, Gulley said.

Tillman Fesperman, who co-owns the mall, said he would actively seek a new tenant to operate a grocery store.

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