Publix is negotiating to buy the local store
Lucky’s Market on East Granada Boulevard was busy Jan. 28 as shoppers took advantage of the 25% going-out-of-business sale.
The store announced it was closing last week and Publix recently announced it is buying out the lease.
A store worker expected the discounts to increase later and said all the merchandise will likely be sold before the Feb. 12 projected closing date.
“There’s not much on the shelves now,” she said.
Employees of chain grocery stores are typically not allowed to speak to the media, so identities are not provided in this article.
In the snack bar area, representatives of Winn-Dixie were interviewing potential employees. Perrine’s had also been at the store and Aldi’s Food Market had dropped off information for applicants.
The 65 employees at the store were given the news last week.
“They were devastated,” an employee said. “They loved their jobs.”
But after the announcement, they manned the registers, put on a smile and started helping customers as the day began, the employee said.
More than 100 employees were projected to work at the store when it opened.
Visiting the store to say goodbye was Judie Kellogg, of Second Harvest Food Bank, who had made friends at the store. She said Lucky’s had provided 51,000 meals to Second Harvest since opening and was a great partner for other charities as well.
“You could call the corporate office and even get to know them,” she said.
She said she admired the way employees were keeping a positive attitude.
WHAT NEXT AT LUCKY’S SITE?
Employees soon to be laid off face uncertainty, and the community is also left to wonder what happens next.
A Publix Supermarkets spokeswoman confirmed Jan. 28 that Publix is under contract to acquire the lease from Lucky's but would not say anything about the company’s plans.
“We are currently in the due diligence process, and discussing leases with the landlords for the five locations. No additional details are available at this time,” said Maria Brous, director of communications, in an email.
The other four locations sought by Publix are Clermont, Naples, Neptune Beach and Orlando.
Business observers say the building is likely too small for a Publix store but would accommodate a Green Wise Market, a health-food chain owned by Publix.
The purchase by Publix is subject to court approval.
Other possibilities still exist. Reports say Trader Joe’s is once again looking at the site as a possibility to purchase. Lucky’s had put $5 million into restoring the building, and this makes it much more appealing to a buyer, said city Economic Director Brian Rademacher.
The uncertainty about the next occupant at the store could last for a while. It could take some time for things to sort out as Lucky’s goes through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it recently announced.
The company lost its main financial backer in December when Kroger Co. divested its ownership. At that time, Kroger announced its Lucky’s portfolio was losing money. The loss of Kroger led to the bankruptcy, observers say.
Ormond Beach city officials have said the local Lucky’s was considered a successful location.
“You could call the corporate office and even get to know them,”
JUDIE KELLOGG, Second Harvest Food Bank.
Lucky’s announced it will continue to operate its store in Melbourne, as well as stores in Traverse City, Michigan; Cleveland; Columbus; Columbia, Missouri; Melbourne; and North Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado.
In a press release, Lucky’s said the Asset Purchase Agreements for the stores that are closing are subject to court approval and an overbidding process. The Company has retained PJ Solomon to assist it in these sales of these and other assets of the Company.
The Company should have the continued ability to meet its financial obligations, including those to its employees, as well as to vendors for the continued supply of product to its operating locations, the press release stated.