PITTSFIELD — After operating in the Berkshires for 14 years, Price Rite Marketplace is planning to close its store on Dalton Avenue in Pittsfield by Sept. 30, the store's parent company announced Thursday.
Management of the regional discount supermarket chain did not provide a reason for closing the store, except to say that it was a "very difficult decision."
"Price Rite appreciates the loyalty of its customers who have supported the store through the years and its dedicated team members who have worked hard to serve our community," spokeswoman Laura Panza stated via email.
The store currently has about 40 employees, according to local store management.
Price Rite's parent company is planning to share information regarding potential job opportunities or available positions at other Price Rite stores in the region, Panza said. The chain's closest stores are in Chicopee and Westfield.
Price Rite Marketplace is a registered trademark of New Jersey-based Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer-owned cooperative that is the country's largest supermarket cooperative. (Shop Rite also is a Wakefern brand.) The chain operates 62 stores in eight states from New Hampshire to Maryland. It opened its first store in 1995, in West Springfield.
The closing of the store came as a surprise to city officials, particularly in light of a rebranding and remodeling this year as part of a companywide initiaitive designed to make all of Price Rite's markets easier for customers to shop in and to keep the chain competitive in the growing discount grocery space.
In January, corporate management said the store was planning to add 15 employees to the store's workforce, which was 41 at the time.
"It doesn't make sense to me that they would make those kind of investments and then make a decision to quickly close the store," Mayor Linda Tyer said, adding that the city would reach out to the company to see if there is anything that can be done to reverse the decision. "Price Rite is a very important part of the food ecosystem in this city."
Councilor Kevin Morandi, who represents Ward 2, where Price Rite is located, said word of the closing was "devastating news."
"I shop there. My family shops there," he said. "I know a lot of people in Pittsfield and the surrounding area who like to go there and shop. With budgets and everything today and people struggling, it was certainly a place where people could go and get good prices.
"I don't know if this is related to the pandemic; of course, who knows?" he said. "It's just really tough now."
Councilor at Large Pete White, who grew up in the adjacent Morningside neighborhood and previously has represented Ward 2 on the council, said he had seen a post on Facebook about the store closing.
"That's sad to hear," White said. "This came up during the debate [a few years ago] over whether there should be a Walmart on the [former General Electric site nearby] because that whole area is a food desert. ... People could still walk to it outside of Mornningside.
"Any time you see a business like that that closes and provides deals on food and a place to be employed [it] hurts the area," he said.
Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at email@example.com or 413-281-2755.