WHITEFIELD — The only grocery store in town, Mac’s Market, is closing and thus leaving the nearest options for a full-service grocery store in Lancaster or Littleton.
The Whitefield town office learned of the closure on Tuesday, after a sign was put on the store’s door reading “store closing sale,” with 20 percent off everything in the store beginning today (Sept. 4) and special store hours during the sale from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“It’s going to have a major impact on the town,” Whitefield Selectman John Tholl said Tuesday afternoon “It’s going to make it more difficult for those people who don’t drive or have limited availability for transportation to pick up any food.”
Store management referred all inquiries to the human resources department of the Rutland, Vt.-based Sherman V. Allen Inc., which owns the Mac’s Market chain and has a half dozen grocery stores in New Hampshire, Vermont and New York State, as well as about a dozen convenience stores.
Several calls placed to the department were not returned by press time Tuesday and it was undetermined when the decision was made to close the Whitefield store and why, when the store’s nine employees were notified, when the last day of operations is expected to be, and if the company intends to sell the property, which it bought in 2006.
It was also undetermined if Sherman V. Allen Inc. intends to close the Mac’s Market in Franconia.
On Saturday, the Mac’s Market in Port Henry, Vt., in Essex County, closed its doors for good, according to a story in the Press Republican. The Mac’s in Port Henry was also that town’s only grocery store.
Word of the Whitefield closure quickly made the rounds to members of the Whitefield Economic Development Corp., which will be holding a meeting to kick around ideas on how they can help fill the gap and find another business that wants to come in, said Beth Cape, administrative assistant for the Northern Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, the coverage area of which begins in Whitefield.
“The impact of not having that store will definitely hurt the community,” said Cape, who lives in Whitefield. “A lot of people live around the common and within walking distance … For older people with no transportation, that is their way of getting their groceries.”
She questioned if the Dollar General store up the road, which opened several years ago and sells limited food items, had an impact on the profitability of Mac’s Market in Whitefield.
One downside is if a parent wants to pick a child up at school and make it to the grocery store, they could swing by Mac’s, which was open until 7 p.m., said Cape.
Members of the chamber and WEDC would like to see another grocery store go in the building, she said.
“Hopefully, we can get something else that will take its place, and maybe even source some local produce,” said Cape. “There will definitely be a need, for sure … It’s very sad, but hopefully this will turn into an opportunity.”
According to town records, the property is under the ownership of Sherman V. Allen Real Estate, also based in Rutland, and is assessed at $399,340 with annual property taxes at $10,103.30.
The date of deed is March 20, 2006.
Prior to the Mac’s store, it had been a grocery store run by Roger and Elaine Martin, and before that a grocery store called Sam’s.
“Way back it was an A&P,” said Tholl. “It’s always been a grocery store as far as I know.”
Regionally, another grocery store closed on Tuesday — Save-A-Lot in Gorham.
“It seems to be a pattern in the North Country,” said Tholl. “Now, we’re losing Mac’s … It limits the number of places to get groceries. It’s going to make a big hole in the middle of Whitefield.”