By Brenda Flanagan
The Clifton Pathmark’s plastered with signs — store closing — it’s one of 10 New Jersey supermarkets owned by A&P that will shut down. With dozens more slated to be sold this year, after their corporate parent declared bankruptcy. Many customers have shopped here for years and they feel emotional.
“Everybody angry. Yeah,” said one shopper. “Very bad because we got no store over here, no place.”
“I’ve been shopping at Pathmark — one or the other — for many many years and was very happy with it. I’m very sad to hear it,” said Ella Labocki.
When ask if he is going lose your job Brandon Rosario said, “Yeah, we got laid off. Right now, I’m just applying.”
A&P’s struggled with its cash flow, this is the supermarket conglomerate’s second bankruptcy in five years. As other retailers — like Walmart — opened grocery sections with discount food, they carted off A&P’s market share and undercover market guru Matthew Casey claims A&P got left holding the empty grocery bag.
“Their failure to react to the competition, their failure to keep up with current trends and they just let competition come in. And for lack of a better phrase, eat their lunch. They did nothing to fight and it finally caught up to them,” he said.
Shoppers with boots on the ground confirmed Casey’s observation.
“Because ShopRite, they give better sales than Pathmark. So they’re like always in competition. Pathmark got it for $5, ShopRite got it for $3,” said Janel Bell.
A&P sent layoff notices to employees at 93 NJ stores — named Pathmark, A&P and Superfresh. Some 870 workers will be gone by September and thousands more received notice they’d be let go around Thanksgiving. But it’s misleading to think they’ll all be jobless, say union officials who represent store workers.
“It’s not numbers, it’s people, it’s lives. And our responsibility is to try and do our very best to get as many of our members re-employed as possible,” said John Niccollai.
Union President Niccollai says, A&P’s already sold more than 40 stores to chains like ACME and many workers will probably get rehired by new employers in Tier One of the settlement process.
“We’ll be placing about 4,000 of our 7,000 members and then we’ll go into Tier Two, where other employers will come in to bid on these stores,” said Niccollai.
He’s not sure how many workers will ultimately end up jobless and the union’s still negotiating whether members will earn the same wages or less. A&P sent letters to its customers, explaining it all, including which stores will close and how to find the closest alternative.
“Some people no got car. What, they got to walk five, six miles to that store,” said one stopper.
In 1912, A&P opened its first discount store in Jersey City. This supermarket is going to be one of its last — it’s slated to close next month. A corporate spokesman declined comment.