Lee Big Y grand opening nears


Wednesday November 2, 2011

LEE -- Big Y Foods Inc. will open its new store in Lee this week, bringing 150 jobs and a second major retail grocer to Lee for the first time in nearly 25 years.

The Springfield-based supermarket chain has scheduled a grand opening ceremony Thursday, 10:30 a.m. at its latest location on Route 102, just off Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Dozens of the recently hired full- and part-time employees that will staff the 45,900-square-foot store spent Tuesday stocking shelves and testing equipment, making sure opening-day goes smoothly, according to store manager Steve Gigliotti.

"We had good, qualified people come in during our hiring period last month," Gigliotti said while overseeing the last-minute preparations. "I was shocked how many people said they were unemployed or need a second job to make ends meet."

Gigliotti, who had been manager of the North Adams store, noted that most of the Lee workers received on-the-job training at the Great Barrington Big Y and should be prepared for the anticipated throng of shoppers.

"It's going to be a strong couple months, right through Thanksgiving and Christmas," he said.

"We've already had people stop by thinking we were open. They can't wait to shop."

Big Y, announcing nearly two years ago it was coming to Lee, was welcome news for town officials and residents who've been clamoring for a second major supermarket. The Price Chopper store has been the only grocer in town since Adams Supermarket closed in Lee in the late 1980s.

Big Y estimates the Lee store will cost between $10 million and $12 million to build, atop the $4.25 million the supermarket chain spent to purchase the property from F.L. Roberts & Co. of Springfield.

Big Y currently operates Berkshire County stores in Adams, Great Barrington, North Adams and Pittsfield and has 58 total stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut that employ 9,200 people. The chain has had a presence in the Berkshires since 1984, when it purchased the Adams Supermarket chain.

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Besides the supermarket, Big Y in Lee will have an in-store pharmacy and an additional 5,000 square feet that will accommodate a yet-to-be determined retail tenant, according to company officials.

"All of us at Big Y are excited to off the Lee community a brand new shopping experience and a new option for their grocery and pharmacy needs," said Big Y President Charles L. D'Amour in a statement.

Rite Aid became the town's only prescription drug outlet in 2003, after McClelland's Drug Store on Main Street closed, following a 143-year run for the independent pharmacy.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.

Just the facts

Location: Big Y, Route 102, Lee (just off Mass. Turnpike Exit 2)

Total stores: 58 (Massachusetts and Connecticut)

Employees: 150 (9,200 in all stores)

Size: 45,900 square feet

Total cost: Between $14.25 million and $16.25 million

Grand opening: 10:30 a.m., Thursday


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