By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Bethel’s new super grocery store is closing, less than one year after opening with much fanfare.

The Swanson’s store is set to officially close Friday, displacing about 80 full-time and part-time workers, Bethel radio station KYUK (https://is.gd/DilWUm) reported. The store opened last summer in a new $20 million building that also holds a two-screen movie theater. The theater will remain open.

The store is managed by Omni Enterprises Inc. and owned by the Bethel Native Corp, which also owns the building.

Representatives of the companies did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday.

Store manager Casey Cruz said he was notified by letter Monday morning and broke the news to department heads.



People packed the store Monday as operators held a sale to liquidate the inventory.

“Everything’s 50 percent off and that’s a scary good deal,” customer Tiffany Tony said.

People also lamented the loss of the store in the commercial hub town of about 6,200 located about 400 miles west of Anchorage. Before moving to its new, larger location, Swanson’s operated in Bethel for many years.

“It’s sad to see it going,” customer Cauline Ferguson said.

Also, the town is heavily dependent on sales taxes from establishments like Swanson’s. Only one full grocery store remains.

“This will be lost revenue,” said Bethel City Council member Mark Springer, who was among the Monday crowd at the Swanson’s store. “I don’t think every dollar that would have been spent here is going to continue to be spent in Bethel. You can buy a lot of groceries online. I think people are really going to start shopping more aggressively that way.”

Meanwhile, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development was planning to send a team to Bethel to help displaced workers with skills assessments, unemployment benefits and job-seeking.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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