For nearly 30 years, many in the community had shopped at the family owned Genuardi’s in Chesterbrook. However, since Safeway purchased Genuardi’s a few years back, there has been a slow decline in the store, the number of shoppers and as we now know sales. A spokesperson for the store publically announced the store will close as of August 21. Stating economic reasons for the closing, management will attempt to transfer employees to other store locations, if possible.
The empty store issue is certainly not unfamiliar in Tredyffrin as more and more retailers are negatively impacted by the changing economic climate. At first glance, you might be tempted to think Genuardi’s closing is no different from the closing of Circuit City or Charlie Browns Resturant, but there’s more to this picture.
For those residents living in Chesterbrook that do not have access to cars, Genuardi’s closing may present a negative impact on their health and economy without easy access to a local full-service grocery store. I can cite several people who I know who downsized their large homes in the township to move in to one of the township developments of Chesterbrook . . . this move would simplify their lives; perhaps they could get rid of one car (or both) and walk or bicycle to Genuardi’s or the drug store. After all, when Chesterbrook was developed 30 years ago, it was an award-winning community where people could live, work, shop and play. Part of this marketing concept was the ‘shop’ component, which included a full-service grocery store.
Unlike the retail stores that may close along Rt. 252 or Lancaster Avenue, the Chesterbrook Shopping Center is the core of Chesterbrook, it’s their town center. I would think some of the real estate values of the townhouses and condos that neighbor Chesterbrook Shopping Center may be predicated on the convenience this shopping center provided. Do you think that the empty grocery store is going to create a negative impression for house hunters in Chesterbrook? Or, that perhaps the home sale prices will be driven downward by the empty store?
As Chesterbrook residents have found out about Genuardi’s closing, there has been growing concern for the future of other stores in the shopping center. A concerned Chesterbrook resident sent me the following email:
” . . .We just heard officially that Genuardis will be closing 8/21. This will impact many of our older residents who must rely on walking to Genuardis to get their food. Unofficially we have heard that once Genuardis leaves Rite Aid will soon be behind it. This will hurt the look of the neighborhood and decrease our values. . . “
The closing of Genuardi’s represents much more than just a sign of the economic times. There may be far-reaching ramifications, . . . that is unless a new grocery store tenant can be found to fill the empty space. Here’s hoping that the void is filled before there is any further loss to the Chesterbrook community.