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Thrifty Foods shoppers fight to keep Coquitlam store open

Weekend rallies bring residents out to support community store

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Shoppers in Coquitlam, B.C. are waging a passionate battle to keep their Thrifty Foods store from closing.

They’re holding community rallies in the store’s parking lot, have set up a website (savethriftyfoods.ca) and Facebook page and are urging customers to implore Thrifty, parent company Sobeys and the landlord Aragon Properties to settle their differences and keep the store open.

Thrifty announced in January that the store in Coquitlam’s Austin Station shopping centre—28 kilometers from Vancouver—will close April 25 after attempts at a lease renegotiation failed. The store employs 140.

The closure is something that Dave Hostetter, who lives two blocks away and has shopped four times weekly at the store since its opening 10 years ago, is refusing to take sitting down.

READ: Thrifty Foods aims to avoid food waste and feed the hungry

“We never thought in a million years that we’d be campaigning for our grocery store up the road,” he says. “It’s just killing us that it could be closing.”

Hostetter, a businessman involved in equipment leasing, launched the campaign about two weeks ago. To date, the website has had more than 6,000 unique visitors, while the Facebook page has 633 supporters and the landlord has received about 350 emails from shoppers urging the parties reach a deal.

The campaign has also received coverage from The Province and Global TV in Vancouver.

On Sunday, the latest rally packed the parking lot and Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart and city councillors attended. Cake thanking Thrifty’s staff was handed out and shoppers were urged to email the grocers and landlord.

READ: Thrifty Foods gets a new general manager

“That’s how people feel about Thrifty’s.  It’s a great community store. You’ll put in the time (because) it’s a special place,” said Hostetter, who describes the store as “Urban Fare meets Safeway.”

Yesterday, landlord Mike Lowe told Hostetter there is still a chance to reach a deal.

Later in the day, Hostetter received a call from a Sobeys official in Calgary who he implored to get back to the negotiation table.

“She said she would check with the appropriate people and we would connect over the next few days,” Hostetter wrote on Facebook.

READ: Thrifty Foods’ latest store shows smaller is a big trend

He says the store is apparently profitable and its disappearance would be “a loss for Thrifty.”

“I think the shortest path to a solution that’s better for everybody is that these guys sit down and just come up with a deal.”

However, should attempts to save the store fail, Hostetter told Canadian Grocer his group will keep on fighting.

“Hopefully, all the support that we’ve garnered will help the landlord induce somebody to come into that space. The community really wants something there.”

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