SLINGERLANDS and COLONIE – In an email to customers, Shoprite announced Friday afternoon that it is closing its five stores in the Capital Region including three locations in Albany County and one each in Schenectady and Rensselaer Counties. The announcement came after the Company sent letters to suppliers and notified employees earlier in the day.
According to a cashier, who did not want to use her name, interviewed by Spotlight News on Friday, employees were told in the morning and said that company officials told them there would be some kind of severance package but the officials did not yet have details.
Another backend worker interviewed said that the Slingerland store would remain open for a while, but they would no longer receive new shipments for many perishable food areas, like the Deli. He said that would close earlier than the store.
Approximately 500 people are employed at the five locations. The workers are unionized with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1262, which represents store clerks and workers at the front of the store, and Local 1, which represents jobs like meat cutters and other workers who are in the back.
Union leaders were surprised by the announcement and found out at approximately the same time as the workers, according to comments in the Times Union on Friday night.
“We were really taken by surprise,” Harvey Whille, president of Local 1262, said to the TU., explaining that the union learned of the looming closures Friday morning. “We’re going to take every action that is available to us,” he said, adding that union officials will be meeting with lawyers and then the company to discuss severance and other arrangements as the stores shut down.
Frank DeRiso, president of Local 1, said his union also learned of the closure plans Friday morning. “It was definitely a shock to us,” he said in the Times Union article.
The stores provide health insurance and pension contributions for employees and pay between $18 and $30 per hour in wages.
“Shoprite closing is a shock to our community and to the 500 unionized employees at the Capital Region stores targeted for closure,” Colonie Town Supervisor Peter Crummey said. “We stand ready to help reestablish business activity at the site in order to get good-paying jobs for those who just received notification of the expedited closing.”
Both Slingerlands and Colonie stores opened in 2012 and 2013 after opening its first store in the area in 2011 in Niskayuna’s St John’s Plaza. During the three-year period 2011-2013 Shoprite quickly established four stores. The fifth store was built and opened in North Greenbush in 2017.
“This is a multi-state corporation making a decision to pull out of the Capital District, I am glad we have a grocery store across the street,” Bethlehem Town Supervisor David Vanluven said. “There are lots of opportunities in town for employment. It is a great place to work. We hope the employees stay here.”
“This is the first we are hearing of Shoprite closures across the Capital Region and we look to learn more soon,” Albany County Spokesperson Cameron Sagan said. “It is not entirely clear what led to this, but it appears there may be larger market forces at play in making this decision, between shifting shopping habits and changing economics. Regardless, the shuttering of any business is upsetting, representing a loss of jobs and sources of fresh food for a number of neighborhoods.”
The Slingerlands store, the first business to open in the Vista Park, and the Village of Colonie store on Central Avenue received funding or tax relief because they were new locations and proposed large numbers of employees.
Both had controversies regarding the public money used to incentivize the locations.
Vista was originally set up as a technology park and was supposed to have manufacturing and research and development tenants, but many deals fell through and the park looked more like a retail development until 2022.
Breonics Inc., an Albany company specializing in organ regeneration research, was slated to be the first tech tenant in the campus. Breonics’ was looking to move after its lease at the state’s Harriman Research Center ended in August of 2013, but the company opted to not move to the campus.
Monolith Solar started building its headquarters and manufacturing facility behind the Shoprite store, but the company went bankrupt.
The key tenant of the park, Plug Power, however, opened its fuel-cell manufacturing facility there last year with national fanfare, because of the investment of State and Federal money into the new hydrogen technology.
The roads were constructed before any tenants were signed and funded with a $1 million commitment in 2003 from the Albany County Legislature and backing of the Bethlehem IDA. The money was finally released from the County in 2015 to the contractors.
The Route 85 bypass and road reconfiguration was also put in play to add accessibility to the park. That is a State highway.
In 2015, the Colonie IDA had trouble with state Authority Budget Office (ABO) officials for not properly reporting incentives and job creation numbers to the state.
Shoprite at 1769 Central Ave. requested a sales and mortgage tax exemption of $989,000 and $210,000 respectively in 2012. The IDA was also given a job creation estimate of 300 to 400 jobs for Shoprite. Both the project and its job estimates were not listed in ABO reports.
The reporting was corrected, but the annual filings from 2012 did not have exceptions or job creation numbers listed.
Colonie Director of Planning and Economic Development Sean Maguire said that the property is within the Village of Colonie and they would be working with future use or redevelopment of the site, but the Colonie IDA does represent any proposed projects requesting IDA assistance within the Town, including its villages.
Shoprite only received the two exceptions in 2012.
The Unions representing the Shoprite workers said they believe a potential sale of the five properties could be in the works, but there is no confirmation at this time.
If no sale happens, the stores will completely close by December, according to workers and the union.
The email to customers on Friday afternoon read:
As you may have heard, the stores listed below will be closing in the coming weeks.
We are sad to leave the Capital Region, and appreciate not just your business, but your friendship, and your loyalty to ShopRite.
When we entered this marketplace, we did so with an intent to bring an exceptional shopping experience to the residents of the Capital Region.
Today, due to changing market conditions and the influx of food retailers in the area, we are unable to maintain the level of sales needed to keep operating these locations. As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to close the following Capital Region stores:
•ShopRite of Niskayuna
•ShopRite of Colonie
•ShopRite of Slingerlands
•ShopRite of Albany
•ShopRite of North Greenbush
We will be honoring our October 22nd thru October 28th ad and expect to stay in-stock on most items throughout this coming week. Unfortunately, effective immediately we will be unable to offer rainchecks or substitute products.
The Capital District ShopRite stores will no longer be participating in this year’s holiday program that was recently launched and runs November 23rd. Effective 10/20, customers may no longer accrue points at our five Capital Region stores, and will not be able to redeem points for a free turkey or other promotional item at these stores. However, the holiday program is still available in other participating ShopRite locations that are not affected by today’s closure announcement. See store for more details. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Also, effective Sunday October 22nd, our updated store hours will be 7am-8pm daily.
Please follow our Facebook page for continuous updates as we wind down our operations and liquidate inventory in the coming weeks.
Thank you for your patronage.