Elected officials are speaking out about the impending shuttering of Walbaums — a casualty of A&P’s recent bankruptcy filing — insisting that the building remain a full-service supermarket for the neighborhood.
A & P has been tightlipped about the negotiations with the press as well as Waldbaums’ 70 employees, who tell us they were not granted notice of the closure far enough in advance to seek other employment.
One store manager, Marie, who asked us not to use her last name, said lack of communication from the supermarket’s parent company prevented Waldbaums’ workers from applying for positions at the Stop & Shop that opened at the location of Pathmark on Cropsey Avenue last month.
“We were kept in the dark the whole time. We thought we were bought, but after Key Food backed out, they never told us anything,” she said. “They made our hands tied. We couldn’t get a job because we didn’t know if someone else was coming.”
In response, Councilman Vincent Gentile, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and other elected officials are organizing rally in the parking lot of Waldbaums (8121 New Utrecht Avenue) on Thursday, at 2pm, to demand answers, and call for Waldbaums to be replaced by another supermarket.
“The Waldbaums has been a reliable and convenient mainstay in the community for almost 40 years. There is currently no deal in place for a new supermarket,” said Gentile. “This is a great disservice to Waldbaums’ loyal employees and Bensonhurst community members, with Thanksgiving fast approaching.”
Brooklyn Chamber’s Carlo Scissura noted that Waldbaums is the only full-service supermarket in the area that has a parking lot, calling the store a “critical anchor for Bensonhurst.”
“I have been shopping there forever, as have many of my friends and relatives in the neighborhood,” said Scissura, “Not only does it need to remain a supermarket, but whoever gets it should do some upgrades to the property.”
Councilman Mark Treyger, who will also be at Thursday’s protest, criticized A&P for lack of transparency with the store’s employees and the community.
“This is exactly why we really have to step in. Everything that we’re dealing with is rumors and chatter and hearsay,” said Treyger. “The bottom line is our job in government is not to deal with rumors and chatter. It’s to make sure residents have access to fresh produce and support working families who have been working there for many, many years.”