SANATOGA PA – The Sanatoga Thriftway supermarket, a retail fixture since 1997 at 2190 E. High St. in the village, will close its doors “probably within the week,” the store’s family ownership confirmed Wednesday morning (Aug. 5, 2015).
“It’s been sort of a perfect storm for us,” said Joe DeLorenzo, whose family at one time owned several other supermarkets. The Sanatoga location, its last, has been struggling for several years with a poor economy, heightened local competition from discounters, and “all the other problems a small independent business faces,” he said.
Its employees have already been notified, according to DeLorenzo, “and we’re in the process of winding down right now.” There is no plan to relocate the store, he added.
Concerned readers first began alerting The Post about a week ago that “something was changing” at Thriftway, but rumors they had heard of a closing could not be verified then. The volume of e-mail zoomed higher since Monday (Aug. 3), apparently as employees discussed the event with families and friends.
In a phone interview today, DeLorenzo acknowledged the decision and thanked shoppers for their past support. “We’ve had a great run, and we appreciate the patronage we’ve had,” he said.
It just wasn’t enough to overcome dramatic changes within the village and the grocery industry itself, DeLorenzo indicated.
“The economy has taken its toll,” according to DeLorenzo, and he cited a specific local example. The closing of the Sanatoga K-Mart last September (2014) had a significant negative effect on foot traffic into the adjacent supermarket: it fell, DeLorenzo said, by about 15 percent. Customers who once walked into Thriftway because it was close to the discount store simply disappeared.
That, combined with pricing battles against warehouse markets like Costco in the Gateway At Sanatoga shopping center at U.S. Route 422, and the grocery expansion of Wal-Mart on Shoemaker Road in Pottstown, made it difficult to stay competitive, he said.
Internal problems during earlier years in obtaining stock from warehouse suppliers didn’t make things easier, DeLorenzo noted.
The family ceased operations years ago at other locations, according to DeLorenzo, so the business founded by his parents could further invest in the Sanatoga site. “This was the last location we had, and we put our best foot forward,” he said.
Patrons reacted immediately via e-mail, and sadly, to the news.
“It’s sad to see another long-time business in the village closing,” Alan Edlund wrote. The DeLorenzos, he added, “have been good friends and neighbors in the community for many years. What a loss!”
“The whole neighborhood is upset and in mourning over this!,” Terri Buckwalter added.
A final closing date has yet to be announced.