Employees, residents feel loss of Giant Eagle

The last day of business at Giant Eagle in University Plaza was a quiet one. Many shoppers had taken advantage of the discounted items in the past week as the shelves were mostly bare.

Although Friday was the last day, Giant Eagle employees were still hesitant to voice their opinions.

“I’d rather not comment,” one employee said.

“I don’t have anything nice to say,” another said.

The store closing came as a surprise to employees and residents when the announcement came two weeks ago without notice.

Councilman Wayne Wilson, whose ward includes the area, said he didn’t know Giant Eagle was closing until a Record-Courier reporter called him Feb. 9.

“The supermarket is a big drawing card to the plaza,” Wilson said. “With Giant Eagle closing, it will really hurt the South End of the city not having a supermarket.”

The city still doesn’t know what will happen with the empty store location. City Manager Dave Ruller said in an e-mail that some stores, including Marc’s, Aldi Foods and Main Street Market, are looking to expand into the Kent area.

“We’re going to reach out to them and see if we can re-energize their interest,” Ruller wrote.

The loss of the store will impact Kent’s economy. Ruller said the store generates $30,000 a year in income tax receipts. It will also impact residents in the neighborhood, including Tower 43 residents and those who don’t have cars.

“My wife and I take the bus to do our grocery shopping,” Kent resident Jack Gordon said. “Now we have to change buses to go to Stow.”

Gordon said he will have to shop for his mother-in-law, who uses a power wheelchair, because there is no other grocery store close to where she lives.

Nancy Cole, property manager of Tower 43, said many of the older residents use their power wheelchairs to get groceries.

“We’re hoping to work something out to get our residents without a car to a different grocery store,” she said.

In addition, Giant Eagle used to donate leftover bread and other bakery items to Kent Social Services for their food pantry, volunteer Kathy Dunbar said.

Denise Ball, of Kent, said she shopped at Giant Eagle at least once a week because it was convenient.

“I used to shop here back when it used to be Apples,” Ball said. “It’s only two minutes from my house.”

Ball, as well as many other shoppers, will start shopping at Acme on state Route 59.

The Rite Aid Pharmacy, located next to Giant Eagle, has begun stocking bread to help fill the void.

Contact public affairs reporters Charlotte Muller at [email protected] and Tara Pringle at [email protected].