Today, the store is a shell of its former self; the corridors are mostly empty as stock is liquidated at rock bottom prices. Signs are scattered around the store reminding shoppers that, along with the 30 percent discount, the store now has a no returns policy. There are a couple of cashiers still working but the ambience makes you feel as if you were walking into a skeleton of a store.
The place is dark, too; only half of the stores lights are on. Outside, the parking lot still has a few cars in it, mainly belonging to people, who are attracted by the big Close Out Sale sign on Kenmore Avenue. The regular customers are gone, said a cashier who didnt want to be identified. People are just picking stuff over now. As if to emphasize the point, a mid-thirties couple is taking turns giving each other rides on shopping carts in the back of the store. They whiz down the lonely aisles like out-of-control five year olds. Somehow, I cant see them doing this a month and a half ago when the store was crowded, noisy, and lit up.
Some of us are applying at other stores, says the cashier, ringing out my close-out carpet cleaner, but it is kind of sad. More than 70 people used to work together here. The United Food and Commercial Workers union representative Mike Manna summed it up, There are a lot of ways that this is sad, but the biggest thing is that these were good jobs with guaranteed raises and health care benefits, and those jobs are harder to find these days. Beyond that, the place was known as a good place to work, with an owner, Mike Fabiniak, whom many people agreed was a stand -up guy. Workers and management had pulled together to try to save the store some time ago, but they were ultimately unsuccessful.
Calls to the City of Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda made it clear that both cities were aware of the closing, but only in an absent minded way. People either didnt know what I was talking about or knew it only vaguely. For the people who worked there and for well-liked local owner Mike Fabiniak, their store is ending with a sigh. I will miss it, and I will now be driving a little farther to get my groceries. So will my whole neighborhood.
The UFCW is working with workers to help them find work at some of the other unionized grocery chains, such as Tops. The thing is, when you shop at a non-union place such as Wegmans or Aldis, you support forcing down your neighbors standard of living, adds Mike Manna. So think about that as you shop for eggnog and candy canes during this holiday season. By Drew Astolfi
Ive lived around the corner from the Kenmore Avenue Jubilee Market for two years. It was surprising to me that it was closing, since the parking lot always seemed pretty full. A grocery story is necessary to the life of a neighborhood, and each one exerts a kind of gravitational pull on the homes around it, drawing in shoppers.