The Fresh Market in Albemarle Square is set to close its doors after more than five years of service to the Charlottesville area.
A total of 15 under-performing locations are set to close for The Fresh Market around the country, including the one in Albemarle Square.
The company’s president and CEO Larry Appel claims that construction at the Route 29 and Rio Road intersection slowed business for more than a year. Appel also says that the current traffic configuration to enter Albemarle Square is complicated, impacting his business.
“There was substantial road construction over there that dramatically changed the visibility and the accessibility to that site and really challenged that store,” Appel said.
While competition among area gourmet grocery stores is strong, the Regional Chamber of Commerce agreed with The Fresh Market’s reasoning for closing.
“The building of that overpass kept people from getting in that shopping center and, over the long haul, retail businesses you can’t get to aren’t going to make money,” said Phil Sparks of the Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Before the store closes for good, customers are taking advantage of store-wide markdown prices. Hundreds of customers flooded The Fresh Market on Tuesday with everything in the store marked 30 percent off.
“They have so many products that you are accustomed to that you can’t get at other stores,” said Shirley Springer, a shopper at The Fresh Market.
The closure brings up the larger issue of what will happen to the rest of the businesses in the shopping center. Albemarle Square has struggled for years and The Fresh Market was supposed to breathe “new life” into the shopping center that was built in 1976.
“You look at Rio and 29 and it ought to be just a booming location, part of the problem is getting into that shopping center,” Sparks said.
Customers have mixed views on the shopping center’s accessibility. Shopping there is easy for Jennifer Corbey, who lives across Route 29, but she says something has to change at Albemarle Square.
“Yes, I’d love to see more tenants in this shopping center,” Corbey said. “It’s sad to see so many doors that are closed. So more people here, love it. More shopping experience, love it.”
A spokeswoman for the company says there is no official closing date. The sell down typically takes between two and four weeks, so the store’s official closure depends on how quickly its products are sold.
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