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Big Y to sell ‘undersized’ Massachusetts store

Location unable to accommodate evolving retail model

Big Y Foods is looking to sell a supermarket in Adams, Mass., to another operator because the store is too small for its current business model.

The Springfield, Mass.-based grocery chain said yesterday that the Adams location, at 1 Myrtle St., has a footprint of just 16,000 square feet — compared with the retailer’s average size of 55,000 square feet — and it “can no longer operate this store effectively” in order to “keep up with Big Y’s current changing consumer needs.”

For example, Big Y said, the Adams store doesn’t sell fresh pizza, fish and chips, or sushi and carries an “extremely limited” selection of organic foods. Selling space for local products such as fresh produce also is limited, and as a result the store offers 40% fewer of these items than a typical Big Y supermarket. The pharmacy, too, lacks space for the pharmacist to provide private medication consultations and administer vaccinations, such as for flu and pneumonia, the retailer said.

And as the chain’s retail model has evolved, the Adams store’s space proved insufficient to accommodate new offerings, and the site’s 2.48 acres had no room for expanding the building, Big Y noted. For instance, customers seeing items in Big Y’s circular or other Big Y locations often were puzzled about why they couldn’t find them in the Adams store, Big Y explained.

The company added that operating constraints remained even after a $500,000 upgrade project for the store in 2013 that include new amenities and the replacement of outdated equipment.

“It is always difficult to close a store, especially one that has been part of the Big Y family for 35 years,” Charles D’Amour, president and CEO of Big Y, said in a statement. “We appreciate all of the help and support from this employee team along with our loyal customers who have been shopping there. We hope that we can continue to serve these loyal shoppers at other Big Y locations in Berkshire County.”

More representative of Big Y’s current strategy is a store that opened in late January in Marlborough, Conn. The 54,000-square-foot stores serves up a broad menu of prepared foods, including hand-tossed pizza, rotisserie and fried chicken, wing and hot food bars, made-to-order sandwiches, store-made sushi and a soup bar. It also houses an eat-in café; a wide assortment of natural, organic and gluten-free products and local fresh produce; a make-your-own nut butter station; full-service bakery, seafood, deli and floral departments; and self-scan checkout stations.

Big Y said it’s “aggressively pursuing another operator” for the Adams location but hasn’t disclosed a potential suitor. Published reports said the grocer has identified a buyer for the store, which is slated to be shut in March. To help customers needing transportation after the Adams store closes, Big Y said it will provide shuttle service from the site to its North Adams supermarket. In the Berkshires area, Big Y also operates a store in Pittsfield, Mass.

Plans call for Big Y to lay off about 90 employees of the Adams store, but the company said it’s working to place as many staff as possible at other locations. All affected employees will receive a benefits package and be eligible for an assistance program. The retailer also has retained a career services firm to aid with job searches and other outplacement services.

Overall, Big Y operates 83 stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut, including 71 Big Y supermarkets; 10 Big Y Express convenience and fuel locations; one Fresh Acres Market specialty supermarket; and one Table & Vine wine, beer, spirits and specialty foods store.

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