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The Extra Foods on Broadway Avenue is shutting down.
Parent company Loblaw is closing the grocery store on April 23.
“They’ve made the decision to close that store rather than convert it,” Lucy Figueiredo, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Local 1400 president, told Global News..
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That means all employees, who learned of the store’s fate on Monday afternoon, will be laid off.
Figueiredo said Loblaw didn’t tell employees why it decided to close the store down or what will happen to the site.
In a statement, the company said the decision was not an easy one but “the store has been unprofitable and we don’t expect that to turn around.”
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Figueiredo said she was hoping to negotiate more help for employees, some of whom are close to retirement.
Loblaw’s statement said the company provided significant notice and extended assistance programs to all and “generous compensation for those eligible.”
Employees at the store said they were told not to speak to media.
“The property and the Extra Foods has been an anchor, I think, in Nutana for a long time,” Figueiredo said.
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The store reopened as an Extra Foods about three decades ago. Before that, it had different owners and names going even further back.
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“A lot of people in the community relied on (the store). And you can talk to any of our senior guys, they know the customers who come in every day on a regular basis,” Figueiredo told Global News.
The store currently employs 30 employees, though a small portion of them are full-time.
“It’s not a big food store, so it has a more sort of intimate feel. And some of the senior people that have been working at that Extra Foods for a long time knowing the community,” Figueiredo said.
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A University of Saskatchewan epidemiologist and community health researcher said it fits pattern in Saskatoon and other midsized Canadian cities.
“And that pattern is one of fewer and fewer grocery stores within the sort of urban cores of cities, the older neighborhoods (and) neighborhoods built before the Second World War in particular,” Rachel Engler-Stringer said.
The grocery store migration reduces the vitality of these neighborhoods because neighbors lose a main place to congregate.
And it really affects how people without access to a vehicle.
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“Nutana in particular is an interesting neighborhood from that perspective,” Engler-Stringer said, stating people in very different socio-economic strata live in the area.
“There’s a significant proportion of the population that are sort of… that hidden population,” she added.
Not having access to fresh fruits and vegetables leads to poor nutrition for families with children and contribute to potential developmental and chronic disease issues.
She said the solution may involve tax abatements for stores that open up in areas without readily available fresh food – providing that food is healthy.
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