Fairway Market, a much-beloved grocery institution in Manhattan that made an ill-fated foray into its suburbs in recent years, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after fending off reports that it was filing for Chapter 7 proceedings and shutting down.
“Grocery drama! The New York Post reports that beleaguered grocery-store chain Fairway is finished. Per the tabloid, ‘Fairway will close all 14 of its stores, including its flagship store at Broadway and West 74th Street … The liquidation could be announced as soon as Wednesday, sources said,’” Chris Crowley writes for Grub Street.
“Despite reports, Fairway Market has no intention to file for chapter 7 or liquidate all of its stores. All 14 stores remain open for business, offering a complete range of high quality, specialty food products, and we look forward to seeing our customers and employees,” Fairway tweeted yesterday.
“Then, on Thursday, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with filing papers that said it had accepted an initial bid from Village Super Market to buy as many as five Fairway stores in New York and its distribution center for about $70 million. Fairway also said that the bankruptcy court would run a supervised sale process for its remaining stores. It added that it would continue to operate its stores during the sale process,” Aaron Randle writes for The New York Times.
“Analysts have blamed Fairway’s struggles on factors including online grocery delivery, the underperformance of suburban stores and the arrival of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. In 2016, the Times columnist Ginia Bellafante wrote that Fairway’s troubles represent the ‘disappearing New York of Woody Allen and Nora Ephron,’” Randle adds.
“Fairway started as a fruit-and-vegetable stand on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1930s and was a family-owned business until the Connecticut-based private equity firm Sterling Investment Partners acquired a roughly 80% stake in January 2007. The company, which went public in 2013, expanded rapidly beyond New York City by opening stores in suburban New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,” Soma Biswas and Leslie Brody write for The Wall Street Journal.
“Fairway filed for chapter 11 protection in 2016, emerging soon after with a restructuring plan to cut its debt by more than half,” they add.
“The music playing from the speakers at Fairway on 74th and Amsterdam was a little too on the nose on Wednesday morning.… ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King and Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ did nothing to set an upbeat tone,” Shira Hanau writes for The New York Jewish Week.
But maybe Wither’s “Lean on Me” will carry the day after all.
Meanwhile, Lucky’s Markets -- whose slogan is “Organic for the 99%” -- is closing 32 of its 39 stores across 10 states, Russell Redman reports for Supermarket News. “Lucky’s operates stores in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Wyoming,” he writes.
“No more drinking wine while you shop. All Lucky’s Markets closing in Florida -- except one,” reads the Miami Herald headline. That’s the one in Melbourne. Twenty-one others reportedly will shutter by Feb. 12.
“Lucky’s Market is known for offering a variety of healthy and locally sourced products including meat, seafood and produce along with prepared foods for a more affordable price. It has its own unique flair. Its shopping carts are customized to support a beer or wine glass so customers can enjoy a drink while shopping,” Michelle Marchante writes.
“It had 17 stores when Kroger invested in 2016.… In December, Kroger announced it was divesting its ownership share in Lucky’s. ‘We just didn't think it created a good return,’ Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said during Kroger's Dec. 5 earnings call,” Kelly Tyko reports for USA Today.
So what exactly does that slogan mean?
“We try to make shopping for healthful foods more affordable to more people,” Ben Friedland, Lucky's Markest vice president of marketing, tells Grocery Dive’s Pamela DeLoatch in a 2018 story that traces the chain’s growth from a single store opened by a couple, Bo and Trish Sharon, looking for “reasonably priced natural and organic foods” in Boulder, Colorado in 2003.
As for its positioning, “A Yelp reviewer recently wrote, 'If Aldi and Fresh Market/Whole Foods had a baby, it would be Lucky’s Market,'” DeLoatch writes.
“We are sad to say the rumors are true. We’re closing many of our stores and couldn’t be more upset to be leaving so many communities who have supported us for years,” reads a post on Lucky’s Facebook page. “What we built with you, our loyal customers, was not in vain. You helped contribute to our mission: Good Food For All.… We love the heck out of you.”
Love once again proves to be a very squishy asset on the balance sheet.