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Bottom Dollar Food closes stores three days earlier than expected

Bob Bauder
| Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, 7:55 p.m.
Garfield residents fought to persuade Aldi food stores to either reopen a grocery store where the Bottom Dollar store it bought on Penn Avenue closed or sell the store someone who would. Mary Wilson of Garfield was among those who rallied outside the store Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.
Andrew Russell | Trib Total Media
Garfield residents fought to persuade Aldi food stores to either reopen a grocery store where the Bottom Dollar store it bought on Penn Avenue closed or sell the store someone who would. Mary Wilson of Garfield was among those who rallied outside the store Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.

Bottom Dollar Food closed its lone Pittsburgh store Monday, which opened just seven months ago, but public officials and residents are lobbying hard for a different grocer to set up shop in the same building on Penn Avenue in Garfield.

Belgium-based DelHaize Group, which sold the Pittsburgh store and 65 others to Aldi Inc. late last year for $15 million, had said the stores would close Thursday.

“As of 2 p.m. today all Bottom Dollar Food locations have closed as we have sold all of the product,” spokeswoman Erin DeWaters said Monday.

It means Garfield residents again will have to shop elsewhere. The grocery was the neighborhood's first in 25 years.

Community leaders and public officials are trying to persuade Aldi to open a store at 5200 Penn Ave. They're concerned that the company, which has a store less than a mile away on Baum Boulevard, could sell to someone outside the grocery business.

“This is a huge, huge setback,” said Aggie Brose, deputy director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., a civic organization that worked with residents for years to attract a grocery store. “The goal is to retain a grocery store at that location.”

Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday scheduled a conference call with Aldi officials to sell them on Garfield. Brose said elected officials ranging from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, to state legislators and City Council representatives have contacted the company.

“The mayor's goal is to keep Aldi in Garfield and ... to also keep the store's infrastructure in place,” Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty said in an email.

Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. wants an agreement from Aldi to keep store equipment in place as negotiations continue. DelHaize has no plans to remove the equipment before the sale is finalized by the end of March, DeWaters said.

“It would just gut the place for future grocery stores if they sold it,” Brose said of the equipment, adding that her organization is contacting other grocers to gauge interest. “We met with one interested party that I can't put out in the news right now.”

She said Aldi has not responded to requests about the store's future. Aldi did not return a call seeking comment.

Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. on Thursday plans to take a busload of residents to Aldi's warehouse and offices in Saxonburg, she said.

“They have to know how serious we are and how sensitive this issue is,” Brose said.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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