By Jeff Labine
Tbnewswatch.com

An employee at Quality Market says he’s sad to hear the stores are closing because his coworkers were like a family to him.

The owners of Quality Market announced that both stores would be closing soon. About 80 employees will affected by the closure. The announcement of the shutdown was made on Tuesday in a release sent to local media, but cited no reason for the closure.

The two stores, a newly constructed location on Golf Links Road, the other Centennial Square, remain open for the time being.

Noel Towegejick worked at the Centennial Square location for the past year. The 19-year-old said he was sad to hear it was closing.

“A lot of people are going to lose out on their jobs but what can you do,” Towegejick said. “Have to go find a new job I guess. I’ve known people who have worked here for a long time. They put their lives into this job. I don’t know that they’re going to do. Everyone is close with each other. I guess we are a family I guess. It was a good place to work. The boss was a good guy.”

But the staff weren’t the only ones taken by surprise.

Some customers who spoke with Tbnewswatch.com said they were surprised to hear the news.

Margo Faykes often shopped at the Golf Links Road store because it was close to home. She said it will not be more inconvenient to shop at one of the other grocery stores.

“I’m shocked,” Faykes said. “I liked the store it was locally owned.”

Shane Wilson agreed with Faykes saying the closing of the store just makes getting groceries a little harder.  He said it was a surprise to him because the store had recently opened.

He called the closing a shame.

Anne Breukelman went to the Quality Market at the Centennial Square because she said she didn’t like going into the larger stores because it’s important to support locally owned businesses.

“It makes me very sad because I liked shopping here,” Breukelman said. “The closure affects a lot of other businesses. I don’t like the big, big stores coming in and taking all the business away from the small businesses.”

Kevin Thompson said it will be an inconvenience to have the Centennial Square store close as he lives close by and his wife works at Victoriaville Mall.

He said it is never good when a locally owned business shuts down.

Colby Flank, a United Food and Commercial Workers Union official, said the abrupt decision, made by the locally owned stores owners, caught everyone off guard.

“My understanding from one of my members is there was a meeting last night, but the closure was announced to them today,” Flank said, noting employees were in the midst of contract negotiations and had met with management as recently as Oct. 5. “I don’t think they’ve even had any time to digest things.”

The company, in operation for 24 years, also operated a third store in County Fair, but closed it when they opened their Golf Links Road site.

The owners said in the release that effective immediately, all stock will be sold at significant savings.

“After 24 years of serving the community, Quality Market is announcing that it will be closing both locations soon. The Quality Market family would like to thank the residents of Thunder Bay for supporting our family business,” brothers Dan and David Stezenko said in a release issued to media on Tuesday.

Tbnewswatch.com attempted to contact both owners but they refused to comment.