East St. Louis residents say they may be forced to get their groceries out of town following Tuesday’s announcement that Schnuck Markets will close its store in East St. Louis next month. Officials with Schnuck Markets have not offered any further information behind its decision to close its store.
On Tuesday, the St. Louis-based grocery chain announced that the store at 2511 State St. will close permanently after business on May 2.
On Wednesday, Schnucks spokeswoman Lori Willis said the company will offer jobs to all 79 people employed at the East St. Louis store. She said Schnucks is not making any further comment.
This is not the first time the company has threatened to close the store. In 2004, Schnucks announced that it was closing the East St. Louis store because it was losing money. At the time, the business cited competition from neighboring nonunion businesses such as Walgreens, an expensive lease and the city’s dwindling population had lead to losses of $500,000 a year during the previous four years. By the end of the year, after meeting with city leaders, the company later decided to keep the store open indefinitely.
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More than a decade later, East St. Louis residents are now wondering where they will get their groceries if Schnucks closes next month. Some, like Walterine Pickens, were shopping Wednesday morning at the Save A Lot store across the street. The 73-year-old said she has relied on Schnucks Pharmacy for her medication, but now she will have to find a new place to fill her prescriptions.
“I don’t know, I’ll have to change my medicine to Walgreens or CVS or somewhere like that,” Pickens said. “So now I’ve got to do some fast moving with my medicine.”
Joyce Harden said she likes to shop at both Schnucks and Save A Lot in East St. Louis and likes Schnucks for the name brands that they carry. After the store closes, she said she will probably have to shop at Schnucks out of town.
“I’ll either have to go to Belleville or Cahokia or somewhere like that that.” Harden said. “(Save A Lot) will probably get more business from people who don’t want to drive as far.”
Washington Park resident Rosetta Loveless was also shopping at Save A Lot on Wednesday when she heard about Schnucks’ plans to close.
“It’s kind of disappointing,” Loveless said.
St. Louis resident Lawrence Moore was shopping at Schnucks in East St. Louis on Wednesday morning. He works in East St. Louis and said closing the store will present an inconvenience for him and East St. Louis area residents.
“I know many of my friends who live in this area and come here,” Moore said. “This is the place where they have the best fish. Now, they’re going to have to find another place.”