Buehler Food Markets Inc. announced Monday that it will close its Delaware store at 800 W. Central Ave.
“Most likely it will be mid- to late February,” said Dan Shanahan, Buehler’s president and chief operating officer, in a prepared statement. “The actual date of closing will be determined over the next few weeks after consulting with our store management, employees, vendors and other tenants.”
Buehler’s opened its Fresh Foods store in Delaware in 1969, and moved to its Central Avenue location in 1986. However, the company considered the store to be “under-performing” and had to make “hard decisions.”
“The painful decision to close came after a year of deliberating Buehler’s entire portfolio of stores,” said the company statement. “Buehler’s tried a number of initiatives over the last few years at Delaware, but were at a disadvantage with only one store in a heavily over-stored Delaware market.”
Among the initiatives was bringing in a Panera Bread and developing property in front of the store, an area that had previously been a mound.
The closing will affect 131 employees — 40 full-time, 23 part-time and 68 seasonal. The company said it will offer eligible employees a position at the 14 other Buehler’s stores across the state. Those who do not transfer will be offered a severance package and recommended to other Delaware supermarkets.
“It’s hard when our team’s lives are involved, because we do have an outstanding team at that location,” said Buehler’s spokeswoman Deb Wilcox. “This decision was in no part due to a lack of their effort, because they’re an outstanding team.”
Before the store closes, the Buehler’s weekly ad will continue to be delivered and discounts are expected in order to sell down inventory.
“E&H Family Group thanks the entire Delaware community, customers, and employees for 46 years of dedication, loyalty and support,” the release stated.
The ACE Hardware store adjacent to the supermarket will remain open. Buehler’s and ACE Hardware have the same parent company, E&H Family Group.
“We will continue to serve the hardware needs of the Delaware community with the friendly customer service ACE Hardware is known for,” said ACE Hardware President Scott Buehler.
The Delaware ACE Hardware, considered one of the top-performing of the 16 stores, is expected to expand, said Sean Hughes, the city’s economic development director.
Buehler’s was founded in 1929 by former A&P employee E.L. (Ed) Buehler and his wife, Helen, in New Philadelphia. The company is now based in Wooster.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.