ARLINGTON — Like her fellow Arlington Food Pavilion employees, Susan Burris first heard the news on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 14, but she counts herself as lucky, since she was already mostly retired and working part-time at the store.
“We could feel something in the air for a while,” said Burris, who started at the Food Pavilion as a checker in 1978 and had worked her way up to receiving clerk. “The last beer and wine delivery was last week.”
The store first opened in 1959, and announced it would close its doors for the last time at 6 p.m. Oct. 14.
Burris emphasized that she and her fellow employees would receive all the pay and compensation they were owed, including vacation hours, but she saw no transfers to other Food Pavilion locations in the employees’ future.
“They already closed down Mount Vernon, Burlington and Bellingham, and re-placed all those stores’ employees at other locations,” Burris said. “All these folks are good, hard-working people, so they’ll find other jobs, but it’s going to be pretty tough on them for a while.”
Burris lamented what she sees as the loss of “another small business” to the coming of larger corporate stores such as Walmart and Costco.
“People came here and met their neighbors,” Burris said. “It’s been like family, and it’s hard to realize that it’s going to be gone.”
Yolanda Larsen, mother of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, was stocking her shopping cart on the Food Pavilion’s final day.
“My sister worked here when this store started,” said Larsen, who worked in the store for 13 years herself, and continued to stop by for groceries once a week. “It’s just really sad.”
Fellow shopper Jim Duffy found out about the closing through friends and family.
“The people who work here are wonderful,” said Duffy, who’s shopped at the Food Pavilion for 20 years, as long as he’s lived in Arlington. “They always treat the customers well, and we have a really nice shopping experience because of them.”
Stanwood’s Wendi Hanson, who stopped by the Food Pavilion to take advantage of its sales, agreed with Duffy that it was “a rotten deal” that the store’s employees were given such short notice, while David Rhodes wondered where commuters to Darrington would pick up their groceries.
“After Haggen closed, all we’ve got left here is the two Safeways, one in town and the other in Smokey Point,” Rhodes said.