Coquitlam man campaigning to keep his Thriftys

A Coquitlam man says he isn't taking the news of his favourite grocery store closing without a fight.

David Hostetter, who lives about three blocks from the Thrifty Foods at Austin Station and shops there a few times a week, said he was devastated to learn the store would be closing by the end of April — and said he's not the only one.

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"I've just heard from so many people who are upset about it," Hostetter said. "And they use words like 'heartbroken,' 'very sad' and 'tragic.' I kept hearing all this stuff in the community and in the store and the mall, and I thought, 'Somebody has to do something.'"

Last weekend, Hostetter created a website, www.savethriftyfoods.ca, that offers contact information for Aragon Properties, the Austin Station landlords, and Sobeys, which owns Thrifty's, and asks people to lobby both parties to sit down and try to work out a lease. Hostetter is also spreading the word with Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"I'm just trying to get the word out there so people know they can let Thrifty's and Aragon know they care about Thrifty's in the community," he said.

Last month, Sobeys confirmed it would be closing the Austin Station location after they were unable to come to acceptable lease renewal terms with Aragon — a "difficult outcome" for the store's customers and employees, a spokesperson said. The store employs 35 full-time and 105 part-time staff.

Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce executive director Michael Hind agreed, noting the closure will affect local non-profit groups as well.

"It's a loss to the Tri-Cities community," he said. "It's a popular grocery store and I hope it can be replaced in some way. They're very community-oriented and they've been very supportive… for a lot of charities and not-for-profits so people will miss that location."

In a statement sent to The Tri-City News, Aragon expressed disappointment that the 10-year anchor tenant would be shutting its doors.

"The store was not an underachieving store by industry standards," said property manager Mike Lowe, noting Aragon understood the store to be profitable and, in the interest of Austin Station's existing tenants and the long-term stability of the mall, Aragon "just couldn't accept the terms that Thrifty proposed."

Lowe said Aragon is confident it will be able to replace Thrifty's with another "popular food store."

spayne@tricitynews.com
@spayneTC

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