The decision and announcement by Sobeys yesterday to close their popular 104 Street store downtown was met with shock and bewilderment. Having a walkable grocery store downtown is often heralded as the success of revitalization efforts in our core, that drawing residents back to live downtown was hitting a certain threshold. Our downtown was becoming a neighbourhood in its own right.
Sobeys Urban Fresh concept was a new ‘urban format’ for the chain, one we all embraced when it was announced in 2006. Sobeys has been an important community partner in the past for us, and why we are sad to see it leave. With the announcement of many stores closing Canada-wide, including two ‘Urban Fresh’ concept stores in Toronto, it’s hard not to question corporate motives for this decision.
This closure, while upsetting, will not stop the growth and revitalization of our downtown. As we hope for an equal or better grocer in that space to anchor 104 Street and serve downtown, there certainly will be further opportunity to fill voids in food retail in Edmonton’s downtown as it develops and matures.