Last Grand Union Grocery Store In Connecticut Will Close

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Supermarket chain Grand Union was once among the top choices in Connecticut for grocery shopping.

But soon, the last store in the state carrying that name will close.

The last Grand Union grocery store in Connecticut is closing. Photo by Mark Mirko/mmirko@courant.com

Store closing sales are now in full swing at the Grand Union on Middle Turnpike in the Storrs section of Mansfield near the northern edge of the University of Connecticut’s main campus.

“It’s really a shame,” Paula Lyons, a lifelong Mansfield resident, told me today in the parking lot. “You run out of stuff so you come here. They have all the basics.”

Lyons said she does shop at the larger, Big Y supermarket about five miles away in Tolland. But to pick up a few things, Grand Union has been the place to go.

“Today, I have cat food and toilet paper,” Lyons said. “How basic is that?”

Grand Union faces the prospect of nearby competition from Price Chopper, which has announced plans to open a grocery store in the Storrs Center development. But that store isn’t expected to open until late next year.

It wasn’t clear when the store will close, but the sales are clearing out the shelves.

The store is owned by C&S Wholesale Grocers of Keene, N.H., which wouldn’t comment on the closing. Today, the store manager in Mansfield also declined to comment.

Did you shop at Grand Union at any of its Connecticut stores? What are your memories?  Share them below.

Just down the road, residents of a trailer park, many of them elderly, are concerned about the closing.

“We are there all the time,”  Jim Durdan, who has lived in the trailer park for a decade and in the town for decades, told me today. “We buy a lot of our meat over there. They have good prices. They have good sales.”

Durdan said he and his wife walk to the store in good weather as do some of their neighbors. While Durdan said he also shops at the Big Y, Grand Union is close and good for older residents, who don’t buy groceries in big quantities.

A store closing sale at the Grand Union in the Storrs section of Mansfield is clearing out the shelves. Photo by Mark Mirko/mmirko@courant.com.

The Grand Union supermarket chain was founded as a single store in 1872 in Scranton, Penn. and grew to become the tenth largest national food store chain by the 1970s with 580 stores in 11 states, 82 of them in Connecticut and New York.

The chain expanded heavily in the 1950s and 1960s, and introduced innovations such as the “Food-O-Mat,” a dispenser for cans, jars and other staples. It worked using gravity: as items were taken by shoppers, the are replaced by others sliding down a ramp.

In the 1950s, Grand Union was the anchor tenant when the southeastern portion of Bishops Corner in West Hartford was built.

But by the late 1970s, Grand Union faced increasing competition from Waldbaum’s and other grocery chains. In the 1990s, Grand Union filed for bankruptcy and tried to reorganize, but in 2001, the company was liquidated and nearly 200 stores were acquired by C&S.

Most of the stores were sold off to competitors. But 30 outlets, according to the C&S web site, remained operating under the Grand Union Family Markets name. Earlier this year, a majority of the remaining Grand Union stores were sold off by C&S, but the sale didn’t include the Storrs location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Last Grand Union Grocery Store In Connecticut Will Close

  1. pete

    Hey just call up DANNY BOY and get some of OUR TAX MONEY that he steals. He gave $150 million to a PIG billionaire so why not some to Grand Union. Don’t they EMPLOY the MIDDLE class

  2. J

    Happened in my town too. The small non chain grocery store within walking distance from elderly housing went out of business since it couldnt compete when a chain grocery store built a big new store a mile down the road. Brand new, twice the size, better bargains, more services. These local grocery stores just cant compete with chain stores like that in this economy so either they give up and close their doors.

    1. CeltinWood

      UPDATE: Grand Union is also a chain. Albeit a poorly sticked and badly managed, small chain….

  3. dave

    To be fair Grand Union in Storrs had no competition around. Many people didn’t want to take time out to drive all the way to Big Y or Stop and Shop. Their selection was never good, prices were high, employees were not helpful. I’m all for small business but they weren’t doing it right for years. It was never about if they would go out of business, but rather when they would go out of business.

  4. emily benson

    I worked for Grand Union in Florida untill it closed. Was a great place to work. One of the saddest days in my life. After reading the closing of this store brought back many memories. Working together for so many years made friends like family. Now that part of our life is long gone! Its so sad to see everyone closing. The A&P was another great grocery!! I wish the best for all the employees!!

  5. Tracey

    I’m surprised that haven’t closed sooner. I stopped shopping here long ago when the food & dairy products on the shelves were grossly out of date. Not to mention the store smells absolutely horrible every time I go in. It used to be a convenient place to pick up a few items, but not such the case in the last several years. Its always sad to see a ‘landmark’ close, especially with all the changes in this area but I have no problem saying Good-Bye to this Grand Union.

  6. Colin

    I’ve since moved south, but used to live 2 miles from this place. The store’s appearance was a bit dated, but it had a cozy atmosphere and as mentioned above all the basics. Friends of mine would affectionately refer to it as ‘The Grand Onion’. My brother also worked there for about 7 years. It had local appeal and was conveniently located. Its closing is unfortunate for the community and its long time employees. Rest in peace G.U.

  7. CeltinWood

    Prices have always been to high, the selection of offerings pittiful, and the hours horrible. As long-time Mansfield residents, we have always hoped that Stop and Shop, Highland Park or another such quality store (other than Price Chopper for God’s sake!!) would have located itself at the corner of Rt 195 and 44 upon the long vacant, large parcel of real estate that would have been perfect for such retailer. As it is, we have always depended upon the Mansfield Big Y (located on the southern edge of town – near Willimantic; next to Mansfield’s Eastbrook Mall) for all our shopping needs (Only those on the North-western edge of Mansfield – AKA Storrs Village – shop at the Tolland Big Y). As for the revenue/tax consuming, “eatery filled and nothing else to offer except over-priced rental property for students”, Storrs Downtown project with its proposed Price Chopper…..That has yet to be seen.

  8. Paul Dufour

    My grocery career started the day after my 16th
    birthday at the Grand Union in Glastonbury. After about 6 months,I was ordering about 50% of the dry groceries. Skipped school many Thursdays for delivery day. I was only allowed to work 30 hours a week on the clock.
    The company is not owned by the original Grand Union. They were actually ahead of their time. They had “Grand Way” stores which had food & other goods such as Target & Wal-Mart. There was a Grand Way in the Manchester CT. Parkade in the 60′s. Ended up with 32 yrs. with Kraft Foods.

  9. Laura

    I only shopped there when I needed something fast. Otherwise, I found it run down, dirty, and expensive. I usually go to Big Y, either in Mansfield or Tolland. Tolland in combination with a trip for gasoline, and Mansfield if I am on that side of town.

  10. Matt

    Paul, that was completely off topic and irrelevant to this article. No one cares about your grocery store past, we are focusing here on the loss of a great store, Grand Union in Storrs, CT. How dare you to the person that said that the employees at this store weren’t helpful because I would have personally walked you to anything that you needed help finding or cut you any delicatessens that you would have wanted to try in this family oriented market.

    1. Judy

      Sorry but the employees were not helpful at all. Grand Union was always filthy and should have closed a long time ago.

  11. Califorkid

    We shippped at Grand Union in Middletown. I remember mom buying cases of mixed varieties of canned soda at .10 a can. Those were the days!

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