DOBSON — Town officials were caught off guard when a grocery store chain announced it would close a location in Dobson.
Late Thursday, Lowe’s Foods announced the Dobson JustSave location at 900 East Atkins St. will be among three stores the company will close throughout the course of the next six weeks. The other two locations are Lowe’s Foods stores in North Wilkesboro and Shallotte.
Thirty-seven employees at the Dobson store will be displaced as a result of the move.
“Lowes Foods…is announcing continued adjustments to their total store portfolio as part of a broader growth strategy for investing in new stores (including new markets), while continuing major store remodels,” explains the press release from an outside marketing firm.
“As part of this overall investment strategy to accelerate growth, Lowes Foods will continue to evaluate current store performance and strategic market positions. As such, Lowes Foods has made the decision to close three store locations by Sept. 17.”
Dobson Town Manager Josh Smith said he had heard rumors the JustSave location might soon shut its doors. However, nobody representing Lowe’s ever reached out to the town.
“Unfortunately, the town had no advance knowledge of any struggles or closure plans,” said Smith, before adding town officials in Dobson will do anything within their power and abilities to help local businesses succeed.
Smith said the closure will have little impact on the town’s finances. Though it will mean the loss of a water customer, the town will still collect property taxes on the building which houses the grocery store. Area residents will also still have the option to shop in town, as Food Lion has a location in Dobson.
However, to those employed at JustSave the implications of the closure are much greater.
“Obviously, it’s a huge disappointment anytime you lose a company which employs local residents,” said Smith. “We hope there’s another tenant or buyer which will reuse this space to provide jobs to those residents.”
Surry County Economic Development President Todd Tucker also only learned of the closure on Friday.
“Obviously, we are disappointed and concerned — primarily for those employees,” remarked Tucker. “We hope there’s enough employment opportunities available they’ll get picked up quickly by another employer.”
Tucker noted his organization will begin researching to see if some other establishment can fill any void left by JustSave’s closure.
Steve Bumgarner a spokesperson for the grocery chain, said the 37 displaced employees in Dobson include part-time and full-time employees.
Bumgarner indicated Lowe’s representatives met with each displaced employee to discuss employment opportunities at other Lowe’s Foods stores prior to Thursday night’s announcement.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.