It is likely that the Stop & Shop in the plaza on Main Street will be sold as a result of an ongoing merger between its parent company, Royal Ahold NV, and that of Hanaford’s Supermarket, Delhaize Group.
“These are big multi-national companies just trying to merge and gain efficiency in size and buying power and we end up suffering on the local level,” said Town Supervisor Neil Bettez.
The store is part of the economic fiber of New Paltz. Stop & Shop adds shopping choices for consumers and provides jobs to many members of the community. Before Stop & Shop, the empty husk of Ames stood in its place, and many citizens fear that if Stop & Shop closes, it will become another derelict structure.
Third-year psychology major Sal Mazzella currently maintains a job as a closer in the Dairy department at Stop & Shop. He and his fellow employees are not well informed about the current state of the merger or the future of their jobs.
“There are so many people that work in the store that are in limbo right now including myself,” Mazzella said. “We all don’t know whether we should abandon ship or stick around and hope for the best. There is no guarantee that any of us will have jobs when all is said and done.”
The process of negotiation with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been highly secretive according to Bettez.
“We’ve tried to call the Federal Trade Commission, both the mayor and I, because it’s going to have such a big impact on our community,” Mazzella said. “We’re just getting voicemails, but we’re reaching out to other people who may have contacts with the Federal Trade Commission to try to get a person on the phone.”
Through the offices of the Kemper Group, the corporate landlord for the entire plaza, Bettez has come to understand that the lease will be sold to another supermarket chain and another grocery store has to open in that location.
“What they were able to tell me was that the Federal Trade Commission will have a say in the next store that could go in there,” Bettez said. “Because Hanaford has so many locations nearby, the Federal Trade Commission is worried that there will be too many of these stores and will result in an advantage for Hanaford’s, so they are not allowing them to open up a Hanaford’s where Stop & Shop was.”
Representatives from neither Royal Ahold NV or Dehlaize Group could be reached for comment and a manager of Stop & Shop also declined to comment over the phone.
In addition to the Stop & Shop in New Paltz, two other stores in the 19th congressional district will also be affected similarly by this merger. The other locations are in Rhinebeck and Wappingers Falls.