Owner Betty Jo Petosa declined to talk Friday about the impending end of her business, saying it's just too difficult to discuss something she hoped would never happen.
Petosa's Family Grocer, which employs about 26 people, has been a fixture on Fifth Avenue since 1986 when Betty Jo and her late husband, Tom Petosa, moved in to offer the community a delicatessen, a fresh-cut meat shop and full line of groceries. The store also has been the site of the city's only state Department of Licensing bureau.
Petosa's has been for sale for about two years, but no buyer emerged. The building is owned by another party.
The store's customers primarily are retired people on fixed incomes. Many of them walk to the store and buy what little they need. Other customers stop by on quick runs for eggs, milk and bread.
In April, just before the Easter holiday, Petosa's closed temporarily when a malfunctioning fire sprinkler flooded the grocery store. Betty Jo Petosa donated all of her undamaged perishable food to local food banks. When the store reopened about a week later, hundreds of downtown Edmonds business owners and customers staged a "cash mob" at the grocery and spent money to help Petosa get the business rolling again.
Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling praised the community for its support of the family-owned store, which he called an anchor of the city.
At the time, Earling posed a question that many customers now must face.
"Think how our downtown would feel if a disaster such as the one that hit Petosa's permanently put it out of business," Earling said.
On Friday, customers said they were sad about the news that the store is going to close.
George and Stefani Priest, both 80, walked to the store to pick up some groceries.
"A lot of elderly people walk to Petosa's and many other places in the city," Stefani Priest said. "It will be a sad day when we can't walk here. They have a wonderful deli and good meats."
Rosemarie Newman, of Seattle, praised the store's meat counter, too, along with its produce. Newman accompanies her 99-year-old mother, who lives in Edmonds, to Petosa's once a week for a two- or three-bag shopping trip.
"My mother has bought all of her groceries here for years and years," Newman said. "We know all the employees and they are such nice people. It just breaks my heart. What happened to shopping local? I do not know where I will take my mother after February."
Bette Bell, 73, of Edmonds, said she has been shopping at Petosa's for 25 years.
"It's so convenient," Bell said. "I sure hope somebody will step up to take it over."
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.