By Elsie Boskamp & Rachel Siford
Over 4,000 employees will be without jobs this month after the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc. (A&P) closes most of its Long Island Waldbaum’s and Pathmark supermarkets.
“A lot of people I know worked in those stores for 15 or more years,” Michelle Renee Grodski, an employee at a merchandising company who was laid off in July, said. “It’s sad.”
The company announced it was filing for bankruptcy this past July.
“I want to thank our employees for their hard work and commitment to our company, as well as our suppliers for their help in guaranteeing that our stores are fully stocked and that we are able to continue meeting the needs of our customers and their families without interruption,” Paul Hertz, President and Chief Executive Officer of A&P said in a press release.
An A&P spokesperson declined to comment, as did the managers of both the Riverhead Waldbaum’s and the Westhampton Beach Waldbaum’s.
The chain’s Westhampton Beach location was originally scheduled to close its doors on September 11, however the site remains open, despite its uncertain future and problems with the current building.
“Working there was a mess, the building is, like, falling apart,” one former Westhampton Beach employee, whose identity remains anonymous due to privacy reasons, said. “I didn’t know if I was going to have a job in a week or not, so, I had to get a new one.”
The store received mixed reviews on yelp, but both year-round and seasonal residents say they will miss the convenience of shopping locally. “It’s not the best supermarket I’ve ever been in, but it’s pretty reliable,” one customer, who identified himself as Peter D., said.
“It’s the only grocery store in Westhampton, and, the town kind of needs a grocery store,” the former employee, said.
An anonymous source from A&P Communications said that most stores are being bought by other grocery stores, so the effect on employees should be minimal. Stop & Shop is one of the stores that is buying up A&P stores, and has already bought 25 facilities, including 9 on Long Island, according to a recent poll.
Other buyers of Long Island stores include King Kullen, Key Food and Best Yet Market. There is no current buyer for the Westhampton or Riverhead stores, but bidding will continue throughout the next few weeks.
“It has affected so many of my friends and family and myself,” Grodski said. “I was out of work two months because my company pulled accounts.”