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Eastside Marketplace loses local ownership

Some shoppers worry change of ownership could jeopardize store’s prices and local flavor

Scott Laurans, owner of Eastside Marketplace, sold the local grocery store this July to Ahold USA, the corporation that owns GIANT, Stop and Shop, Martin’s and Peapod.

Laurans said he closed the deal with the corporation two weeks ago, which proceeded more quickly than expected due to resolved regulatory issues with the state legislature.

Laurans decided to sell his store after more than 20 years for a variety of reasons, he said, including the expiration of his lease, his own age and a lack of family members to inherit the business. He added that it was very important to him for the store to retain its place in Providence.

The offer from Ahold to buy the store came in late spring, he said.

Laurans said the ability to maintain both the store’s name and employees made it “an offer too good to refuse.”

Laurans said he sees Ahold’s ownership of Eastside as a way for the store to be supported by “a big, financially sound organization” to remain competitive in the retail world.

The store, originally “a traditional supermarket” part of East Coast retailer First National Supermarkets, was bought in 1981 by Roger Williams Food Company, where Laurans worked, he said. After acquiring more space and changing the name in 1988 to Eastside Marketplace, the store began to “expand the fresh offerings” and sell prepared foods. It was in the 1990s that the store really became “successful” in the community for its service and the quality of its products, Laurans added.

A shopper participating in a discount day for senior citizens this week said he has “mixed feelings” about the grocery store’s new ownership.

“If they keep the helpful staff and competitive prices, the local flavor and local produce, the quality produce and the best ground beef in town,” he said, he would continue to shop there.

Other shoppers reiterated their hope that nothing would change.

“I’m okay as long as it stays the same,” said Lynn McCracken, a self-described daily Eastside Marketplace patron.

“It was the first supermarket I fell in love with in Providence,” said Dana Goplerud ’15. She said she appreciates Eastside Marketplace’s partnership with nearby bakeries such as Seven Stars and Olga’s Cup and Saucer. Like other shoppers interviewed, she said she hopes the market will maintain its associations with local businesses.

When asked about his thoughts on the switch, Jon Luc Mottel, a service clerk from East Providence, said he thought the new ownership would not affect the store’s prices or atmosphere.

“We’re not supposed to change at all,” Mottel said. He added that the store will remain under the same management and retain its employees.

Eastside Marketplace will not only maintain its current qualities but will be “strongly incentivized” to continue to improve, Laurans said.


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