FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Alaska Marketplace store is up for sale in the city's downtown. The former Carrs Foodland store will be closed by the end of the year if a new buyer isn't found, its owners said Monday.
''While we would prefer to keep the store open or sell it, we have to face the reality that it is unlikely we will be able to find a buyer or improve performance in time to save the store,'' Northwest Retail Ventures, LLC, Chairman Robert Hoyt said in a prepared statement.
The move came just a year after the downtown grocery store opened under a new name and new owners.
Alaska Marketplace was born out of antitrust concerns when the state's No. 2 grocery chain, Safeway Inc., announced its purchase of the state's largest grocery chain, Carr Gottstein Foods Co.
The state said the combination would hurt consumers by giving Safeway control of the grocery market. The state ordered Safeway to sell seven of its stores last year to create a viable competitor.
Northwest Retail Ventures LLC bought six of the stores in mid-October, but the company immediately began losing money.
Half of the Alaska Markeplace stores -- those at Wasilla, Eagle River and one in Anchorage -- were closed in August.
''We are hopeful that proceeds from a sale of the Fairbanks store will provide the liquidity necessary to turn around the remaining two Anchorage stores,'' Hoyt said.
Eighty-four full-time employees stand to lose their jobs if the Fairbanks operation is closed.
Most of the parking spots in front of the store were full Monday evening. A handful of shoppers walked through aisles that were starting to show signs of a business winding down.
Shelves had periodic gaps, where yellow price tags were still affixed below the empty spaces. Ice cream in the frozen foods section was noticeably sparse, with entire shelves empty.
Fairbanks Mayor Jim Hayes said Monday he hopes the store doesn't close.
''That store is sort of like furniture around here,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''I just hope that they are able to turn it around or find a buyer for it.''
He also was concerned about the people losing their jobs so close to the holidays.
''It is bad to do it at all, but 100 people out of work at Christmas time, that would be terrible,'' Hayes said.
While any sale of the store would have to be reviewed by the state, Attorney General Bruce Botelho said his office would have no say in the store's closure.
''One would describe that as simply the market forces at work,'' he said.
Botelho also said that Safeway is barred under the terms of a divestiture agreement from purchasing the Fairbanks store.
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