The Neighborhood Pride grocery store in Ithaca's Fall Creek neighborhood will be closing in the next several days, after the owners decided the business wasn't sustainable. They'll close the store after selling the remaining stock.
The former P&C Foods became an independent grocery store this year.The grocery store, which had been one of three P&C Foods supermarkets in town before the Penn Traffic corporation went bankrupt, opened earlier this year with the help of a $100,000 loan from the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency announced last fall. The store is the brainchild of John Petito, whose family owns the Hancock Street building, where Tops Friendly Markets closed the store soon after acquiring the P&C chain in 2010.
The Petitos faced several stumbling blocks in their plan to renovate and reopen a neighborhood grocery store in the building built by Tony Petito about 40 years ago. It housed an A&P supermarket before the P&C. At first, the family hoped to find a grocery store chain willing to move in, but when they were unable to find a match, they decided to open their own store.
The 19,000-square-foot store was developed as a full-service grocery store, with cafe seating next to the deli counter. The store offered Shur-Fine generic products in addition to name-brand products, and a small selection of local and organic items.
"I think the neighborhood had changed too much by the time they opened, and people don't like to change their routines," says Hallie Chase, a local artist who lives a couple of blocks away. The neighborhood on Ithaca's north side has both low-income and middle-class residents, and the latter group tends to be more mobile, and more easily able to shop at Wegmans, and discount retailer Aldi is a few blocks away.
Chase, who thinks Ithaca has a lot of grocery stores for its size, suspects Neighborhood Pride didn't have enough to break people of their habits. "Aldi and Wegmans were taking all their business," she says. "Walmart sells groceries, too." Both Walmart and Target added large grocery sections over the last few years, and stores like BJ's Wholesale Club and Mainesource further divided the market.
Petito tried lowering prices to make the store more attractive, but it wasn't enough. "People came in for last-minute things, but not enough large purchases," said one cashier at the store this week.
To clear remaining stock, the store is selling everything at 25% off. Remaining inventory at the moment includes such staples as beans and canned vegetables, sauces, condiments, coffee, baking supplies, and bread, as well as frozen dinners, frozen fruit and vegetables, and pet food.