One of Anchorage's oldest groceries is set to close its doors for good. The Carrs-Safeway supermarket in the Mall at Sears will close Sept. 12, according to company spokeswoman Tairsa Worman.
Worman said the store was underperforming and would not be remodeled.
The Sears mall location, at 600 E. Northern Lights Blvd. was opened personally by Anchorage grocers Larry Carr and Barney Gottstein in 1968, becoming the third Carrs store in Anchorage. The chain was sold to competitor Safeway in 1999. In January 2015, Boise, Idaho, retail and grocery chain Albertsons merged with California-based Safeway.
There are currently 24 Carrs-Safeway stores throughout Alaska, but not all are equal, according to some who shop there.
Kay Apatiki used to live near the Sears Mall Carrs-Safeway. Even after moving to Nunaka Valley -- more than five miles away -- Apatiki said she has remained a loyal Sears Mall Carrs-Safeway customer.
"This was always our favorite store than any other Carrs," said Apatiki, a shopper interviewed in the parking lot. "The cooks are really good. They do a better job on my chicken livers."
There are several groceries within easy walking distance of the Midtown Carrs-Safeway store. A newly remodeled Fred Meyer is just across the Seward Highway. A Wal-Mart that sells groceries and other retail items is a block from the Sears mall. Two other Carrs-Safeway stores are within 2 miles of the Sears mall store. But the Sears mall location proved more convenient for some shoppers.
"I work downtown, so the Carrs down there on Gambell is probably where I will go now," 33-year-old J.R. Zufelt said.
But for many of the soon-to-close store's customers, the employees were the real draw.
"A lot of these people, we have seen them grow up and now they are working here, so it's a loss," said Richard Freisinger, 72, who has shopped at the store since the late 1960s.
"I have been coming in here since 1984 and the traffic has kind of dipped, and it's an older store," Ray Lacey, 71, said as he sipped coffee on a bench inside the Sears Mall. "And with the expense of utilities and everything I figured it was just a matter of time. I'll stick with Carrs and go to Aurora Village."
Carrs-Safeway said it was helping store employees find other work.
The closure comes at a time when the Sears mall is seeing renewed interest from retailers, both local and national. Nordstrom Rack -- which sells designer clothes at a discount -- will open Thursday. Steamdot Coffee, a local coffee roaster and retailer, and BurgerFi, a national burger chain, have opened spaces inside the mall.
Mall spokeswoman Linda Boggs said that other retailers had expressed interest in the west end of the mall, where the Carrs-Safeway store now sits. But she didn't rule out getting the grocery chain to change its mind.
"Their lease came up a few years ago," Boggs said. "They (Carrs-Safeway) have been month-to-month, ever since. We are working with them to find a way that they can stay at the Mall at Sears."
Alaska Dispatch Publishing