KINGSTON — Owners of the Thomas’ Foodtown Market in the Kingston Village Center on Wyoming Avenue said Friday the grocery store will close its doors by the end of January.
The store’s 25 employees have been offered positions at other Thomas markets, including those in Dallas, Shavertown, Shickshinny, Hazleton and Tunkhannock, according to Thomas’ co-owner Christopher Evans. He added that he hopes that store’s customers will also chose to shop at another Thomas’ location.
The 24,600-square-foot store opened as a Thomas’ in 2005 eight months after Gerrity’s closed a store at the same location. Prior to Gerrity’s, the site was a Giant Market.
“Approximately eight years ago, numerous Kingston residents — as well as members of the Kingston Council — had approached Thomas’ Family Markets to open a store at this location when Gerrity’s Supermarket vacated the space in 2005, and we were happy to serve the local community,” Evans said.
DeeDee Prywara, of Exeter, was saddened to hear of the store’s closing when she was told as she walked in for some groceries on Friday.
She said she liked the “down homey” feel to the Thomas’ market, which she has been patronizing for six years.
“I’m really surprised” by the decision, she said, though she noted foot traffic at the small market has been “pretty mild.”
A grocery store has occupied the site for decades.
“There’s been a grocery store there for 40 years,” said Kingston Mayor Jim Haggerty.
“Not having the convenience of that store is a loss,” said Haggerty, but he noted there are grocery stores south on Wyoming Avenue in neighboring Edwardsville and a Gerrity’s north on Wyoming Avenue in Wyoming. There’s also a Price Chopper in Wyoming, a Gerrity’s in Luzerne and an Aldi’s Market in Kingston, all serving the West Side communities.
Those other competitors played a role in Thomas’ decision to close.
“We regret that we must close the store, but it should not come as a surprise that the store has been a challenge for the past several years due to increased competition and a rough economy,” said Thomas Baseski, co-owner of Thomas’. “We appreciate the loyalty of our customers and the hard work of our employees, and look forward to serving our customers at our other locations.”
At one point a little more than a decade ago, Kingston had three supermarkets — the Gerrity’s, the Aldi’s and a Price Chopper on Third Avenue. Price Chopper closed and moved to Edwardsville in 2002.
The location, Haggerty said, should not remain vacant too long, but whether it will remain a grocery store is unclear.
“It’s a good location and it will be attractive place for another business no doubt,” Haggerty said, adding that it’s a high-visibility, high-traffic area with a location near the Cross Valley Expressway.
Pugliese Properties of Princeton, N.J. owns the shopping plaza. Messages left with the company’s owner and local property manager were not returned.
Joe Fasula, who owns the Gerrity’s grocery store chain, said he was saddened to hear of “a fellow independent grocer closing a store” but not surprised it was that one, based on its size and location.
“We are a very over stored market, so it doesn’t surprise me that someone is closing,” Fasula said.
He noted that many shoppers want grocery stores to offer more, rather than less, and that requires at least a 40,000-square-foot facility.