South Valley Economy Takes another Hit

March 11, 2009 6:16:51 PM PDT
A popular grocery store announced it is shutting its doors in the South Valley. It comes at a time when the need for jobs in the Central Valley is greater than ever. In total, more than 120 jobs will be lost in Visalia after Sportsman's Warehouse and now FoodsCo have announced they are shutting their doors for good. Fifty-six people who work at the FoodsCo on Mooney Boulevard near Caldwell Avenue were told on Friday the store would be shutting down. FoodsCo spokesperson, Terry O'Neal said, "All employees have been offered other positions at other FoodsCo stores in the area. In Hanford, Tulare and Fresno." The company doesn't know if the Visalia employees will accept those positions or try to find work closer to town.

FoodsCo customers weren't happy to hear about the closure. Carolyn Nicely said, "It doesn't give me a lot of choices to shop for groceries because they're real fresh here and the prices are really good and they're very friendly."

The economic recession has forced grocery stores across the country to shut down, but some customers say other nearby low cost grocers may have ultimately been the demise of FoodsCo. FoodsCo customer Ada Hiatt said, "When they first opened the WinCo, they took all their customers."

Stan Bennetts, past Chairman of the Visalia Economic Development Corporation said, "You've got WinCo that's just opened up around the corner from them and that's a busy Caldwell street. It's much easier access -- ingress and aggress."

News of FoodsCo closing comes just days after Sportsman's Warehouse announced it was also shutting its doors. About 70 people worked at the Visalia outdoor sporting goods store that had only been open for four months.

Bennett said, "With the housing boom and everything that was going there, there was a lot of growth out there. When that stopped, right across the street Home Depot didn't come in, as well and they pulled out of that project."

Bennett believes businesses in the area will recover, but the number of people who will be without a job once the stores do close down will just add to the more than 5,600 people already unemployed in Visalia. Tulare County's unemployment rate is currently 16.2%, which is two points higher from what it was month ago.

FoodsCo in Visalia will close on April 5th. Sportsman's Warehouse will shut down in two to three months.

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