One month after the AFRO reported on the rumored closing of a the N. Monroe St. location of ‘Stop Shop and Save’, one of Baltimore City’s oldest Black-owned grocery store chains, three ‘Stop Shop and Save’ grocery store locations have closed.
As of July 25, 2014, the ‘Stop Shop and Save’ grocery stores on N. Monroe St., W. Cold Spring Lane, and The Alameda have closed for good. The last remaining location, on Harford Ave., displayed all the signs of a store soon to close, with large sections of the store unstocked and empty, and employees discussing where their next checks, possibly their last, would be mailed.
At the N. Monroe St. location the inside fixtures were in the process of being dismantled and its equipment apparently sold off. Two men who identified themselves only as representatives of New Grand Mart, a grocery store with locations in Maryland and Virginia, were loading a meat slicer and other equipment into a box truck for use in their own business. Inside, a workman told the AFRO he was not supposed to allow pictures but would on the condition no one’s face be revealed.
Lois Boone, who lives on Presstman St. a block away from the N. Monroe location, tells the AFRO that in her 56 years in the area, she has seen four different food markets come and go.
With Stop, Shop, and Save now closed, she will have to travel 10 to 15 minutes to the next nearest supermarket. She, however, owns a car, unlike many of her neighbors on Presstman and in the Gilmor Homes housing project nearby.
“There’s no grocery store close but [up] Mondawmin,” said Boone. “That’s a little distance for people who have no transportation.”
At a barber shop across the street from the recently closed W. Cold Spring Lane location, a group of men gathered and complained about the decline in the quality of the store over the course of its tenure since the early 90s, and expressed a sense of betrayal at the abrupt closing.
“It got worse over time,” said one of the men in the shop, Dontay Bradford, who told the AFRO his family had stopped purchasing meat at the store in 1998. Bradford and a man who only gave the name Ronald expressed frustration with the supermarket’s lack of engagement in the community, a community that Bradford felt had been taken advantage of by the store’s owners.
“And that’s the thing. It was Black owned. It was supported. And [it wasn’t] giving back. And now it’s like you took all the money out the hood and ran,” said Bradford.
At the recently closed Alameda location, there was a simple, handwritten sign on the door that read ‘Store Now Closed,’.
At the only remaining open location on Harford Rd. a manager, Lawrence Irving, inquired on his cellphone about whether his employees will have their checks mailed to the store. Shelves at that location were largely empty, and what displays were still stocked were largely adorned with signs announcing steep discounts.
Irving told the AFRO that he had been with ‘Stop, Shop, and Save’ for over 36 years.
“It’s sad. True,” said Irving, adding, “It’s business. It’s life.” Irving said that another grocery store company, Very Best, Inc., had expressed interest in the Hartford Rd location as well as in the existing employees.
When the AFRO contacted Very Best, Inc., its president, Ray Ha, explained that while they were interested in the location, no agreement had been finalized, and that while they would be interested in some of ‘Stop, Shop, and Save’s existing employees, they would also likely have some of their own present employees working there as well.
Similar to what employees of the N. Monroe St. location had told the AFRO back in June, Irving had not been given any official closing date by ownership, though the condition of the store gave an indication that such could very well be pending imminently.
The AFRO attempted to reach out to ‘Stop, Shop, and Save’ owner Rev. Dr. Henry Baines, as well as ‘Stop, Shop, and Save’ President Anthony Baines, Henry Baines’s son, but could not leave messages because both of their mailboxes were full. When reached for comment one month ago, Anthony Baines deferred to his father who chose not to comment.