ARLINGTON — Local shoppers and city leaders are hoping to see a couple new grocery stores come to town soon.
The back-to-back closures of Haggen and Food Pavilion have cut down on options for buying groceries near downtown Arlington.
That leaves two Safeways and a Walmart within city boundaries. It’s frustrating for grocery shoppers and worrisome for nearby businesses.
Mikki Ryan, assistant manager at a Great Clips hair salon near the Haggen building, was surprised when the store closed. Now, she worries about how that could affect her business.
“If something doesn’t come in soon, we’ll really start to feel it,” Ryan said. “We have a customer base, but we need those people driving and walking by.”
Great Clips is situated across the parking lot from the 60,000-square-foot Haggen building at the corner of Highway 9 and 204th Street Northeast. There also is an H&R Block office, Pedeltweezers Chinese and Pizza, Tricycle Professional Nail Care and Sun Room Tanning Salon.
Hailey Robbins, a stylist at Great Clips, shares Ryan’s concern for the small business park. She also misses the Haggen cafe area where most employees went for lunch.
Though Robbins was surprised by Haggen’s closing, it wasn’t as sudden as the shutting of Food Pavilion, which didn’t host sales or put up banners like Haggen did in the weeks before it closed.
“At least with Haggen we had some warning,” she said. “Food Pavilion was just gone.”
The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce has heard from people who are dismayed by the closures of the Haggen and Food Pavilion. They want more options for grocery shopping close to home.
“The biggest thing I hear from the community is you have either Safeway, Safeway or Walmart,” the chamber’s Managing Director Stacie Roark said. “A lot of folks aren’t big Walmart supporters, and they’re wanting something that isn’t in Marysville.”
The city’s working on it, officials say.
Arlington’s community and economic development department has reached out to building owners to offer help with promoting the spaces for new businesses, department director Paul Ellis said. However, no concrete plans have yet been shared with the city.
“We don’t want to see either of them sit vacant,” Ellis said. “We haven’t heard of anything else going in there yet.”
The city is not anticipating much of a decline in sales tax revenues because most groceries are not taxed, he said. But lost jobs and reduced services are a blow. He wasn’t sure how many employees were affected by the stores’ closures, but Haggen tried to place many of their workers at other locations, he said.
The city did not know that the Food Pavilion was at risk of closing until the decision was made, according to a city staff report. City staff plan to follow up with the owner of the building to help land a new tenant quickly.
Though a campaign has started on Facebook to bring a Trader Joe’s to town, and rumors quickly spread that one would take over the Food Pavilion building, Arlington is not on the list for a new Trader Joe’s in the next two years, a spokeswoman for the company said last week.
“We would like to see another market there,” Ellis said. “We’re really kind of short on grocery stores now with two of them closed.”
Kari Bray: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3439