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Tenants mourn loss of beloved grocery store

Seniors have trouble getting groceries elsewhere

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Tenants of the Courts of St. James are upset over the loss of their on-location grocery store.
The IGA location in the Courts closed its doors in early November, making it more difficult for tenants — mainly senior citizens — to purchase groceries.

Irene Morello-Beer, a commercial tenant of the Courts of St. James for the past 15 years, compared the loss to a divorce.

"I felt like I was going through a divorce, you know? You take it for granted that it’s there, and then all of a sudden without any notice, they just sort of (disappear)," Morello-Beer, who owns Chateau Studio Hair & Skin Care, said.

Morello-Beer doesn’t live at either of the neighbouring buildings, but feels the loss as strongly as the tenants.

"It’s hard to come to work and hear your clients are upset because they don’t have a grocery store anymore," Morello-Beer said. "(The loss) does affect us because if tenants decide to move, it’s going to affect my business. We don’t have the walk-ins that we had before. It’s a big change."

Jean Campbell, a tenant of the Courts of St. James and manager of its Hallmark location, said not only did the majority of senior citizens lose a major service, they also lost community members.

"When the store closed and the IGA staff left, it was the loss of a family," Campbell said. "They were missing the people they had a connection with."

The tenants found out the news of IGA’s closure in September. In the last few days, Campbell said IGA had many good sales.

"But we didn’t want them to be selling things off. We wanted them to remain there," Campbell said.

People still come into the Courts of St. James not knowing that IGA has closed, and when they realize that it is indeed closed, they usually ask, "What are the senior citizens that don’t have family or transportation going to do?" according to Campbell.

Assistant vice-president Maria Da Ponte of Globe General Agencies, which manages the property, said the closure was a decision made by Sobeys and IGA.

"That particular model of store didn’t fit into their real estate plan. They made the decision to close, but they did it on a lease term," Da Ponte said. "The owners of the complex didn’t have any decision in the closing of that location."

Da Ponte also mentioned that IGA has provided free shuttle service for the tenants to take to go to one of the other IGA stores nearby.

"They’re trying to keep the tenants at their store, and give them options," Da Ponte said.

Campbell said IGA isn’t the first service to go. Between May and September, the tenants lost three essential services: the post office, the pharmacy, and now IGA.

Gisele Keller, a current tenant, said she moved here because of the presence of an on-site grocery store.

"I moved here three years ago," Keller said. "As I get older, I might need convenience, and now it’s closed. It’s not really good."

"I hope we get another grocery store in here," another tenant, Margaret Davidge, said.

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