By Mina Williams For The Herald
EDMONDS — Betty Jo Petosa stood Tuesday in her grocery store without any customers. Her Petosa’s Family Grocer has been closed since the weekend after a fire sprinkler went off and flooded the Edmonds mainstay.
“This is the biggest challenge of my life,” Petosa said.
Despite her loss, Petosa is most concerned for her customers.
“I know how to handle this. A similar thing happened at my home. But there are a lot of seniors who rely on us for their daily groceries and for a social connection,” she said. “Many no longer drive and walk to us for their groceries. This is going to be very hard on them.”
Petosa’s Family Grocer has been owned by Petosa since 1986. During that time the store has only been closed for two days, during a power outage caused by extreme weather.
Construction equipment and electrical cords block safe access to the store as cleanup efforts continue. The licensing kiosk inside the store’s doors has been cordoned off so that those services remain open. Immediately following the incident, Petosa’s was selling newspapers.
Sometime early Saturday, a fire sprinkler malfunctioned in the store’s office. Water traveled through the walls and into the store’s stock room. Grocery aisles on the north side of the store had standing water in them. The store’s restrooms and employee lunch room were also damaged.
Petosa recalled that when she left the store Friday, all was fine. She had stayed late at the store because of a burglary that had occurred earlier that day. When store staff came to open for a busy Saturday before Easter at 5 a.m., the flooding water was discovered and Petosa was called.
Water damage also affected the businesses below the store’s sales floor, a food service company, the MS Donor closet, an auto body shop and an investment company.
The timing could not have been worse, said Petosa. The store was stocked and ready for shoppers gathering the ingredients for their Easter dinners.
“Our meat department was full of ham and lamb,” she said.
Contents of a 12-foot dairy case were a total loss. Largely the store’s merchandise on the center aisles was not damaged.
Because of the closure, the store’s perishable inventory — undamaged selections from the meat case, deli department and all the produce — were quickly prepared for donation to the Edmonds food bank.
The silver lining of the closure is that the store is getting a good deep cleaning, Petosa said.
Petosa is unsure when Petosa’s Family Grocer will reopen. Once cleanup is finished and the store passes its health inspection, she will be able to set a reopening date, she said.
“I just hope and pray our customers haven’t found another grocer,” Petosa said. “I hope they will welcome us back.”