Flatbush Stop & Shop to close, leaving residents concerned about lack of affordable groceries

The store is "not meeting the company's financial targets." Meanwhile, the lines at the food pantry around the corner keep growing longer.

Flatbush Stop & Shop to close, leaving residents concerned about lack of affordable groceries

Stop & Shop will not renew its lease at its Flatbush store, the company said, closing one of the neighborhood's few supermarkets and leaving residents worried about having to commute or pay higher prices for their groceries.

The national grocery chain’s store at 1009 Flatbush Avenue, at the corner of Flatbush Ave and Tilden Ave, was not meeting the company’s financial targets, said Stephanie Shuman, Stop & Shop’s communications manager. A closing date has not yet been determined, and the store will continue to operate throughout the holiday season, she said.

For many who rely on the store for their grocery needs, the news comes as a surprise and a disappointment.

“There’s no other nearby supermarket,” said Chantel Smith, who visits the store most weeks when shopping with her mother, who lives nearby. “Where are we going to go to next?”

Standing outside the store last week, Smith said she had heard rumors that the store might be closing. But the supermarket had no signs indicating it would close, and she said she had hoped the rumors weren’t true.

“It’s a staple in the neighborhood,” Smith said, adding that she remembers when there was a Sears across the street and a Walgreens around the corner. But, in recent years, those stores have closed, and other small businesses have shuttered as well. Now, empty lots or high-rise residential buildings stand in their place, she said.

With the closure of this grocery store, Smith said she and her mom will likely drive to Downtown Brooklyn, where she knows there’s another Stop & Shop. But that location doesn’t have free parking, which is a draw for many to the Flatbush location, she said. And, worst of all, it's much farther away.

Flatbush is already a high-need area for supermarkets, according to a City analysis from 2018. The closure of one of the neighborhood’s few chain grocery stores makes that problem even worse, said Alison Zaccone, communications director at the Flatbush-based non-profit organization CAMBA, which provides resources to low-income New Yorkers.

“In this particular neighborhood, the loss of this grocery store when options are already limited is going to create a real food desert,” Zaccone said.

The organization’s food pantry, located around the corner from the Stop & Shop, serves considerably more people now than before the pandemic began, Zaccone said. “With how many people are still struggling, combined with the closing of this supermarket, we do not expect those numbers to go back down anytime soon,” she added.

Grocery prices in the New York City area have risen by 10 percent in the last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those who commute to a supermarket, the price of subway fare or gas pushes the cost of a trip to the grocery store even higher, exacerbating the impact of inflation, Zaccone said.

High grocery prices worry Mike Pierre, who lives nearby and relies on this Stop & Shop for most of his grocery needs. When the store closes, Pierre said finding the groceries he likes near his home will be difficult, with prices at smaller stores considerably higher than the ones he’s used to at the grocery chain. He’ll have to change his weekly shopping list to make it more affordable, he said.

But, Pierre added, the Stop & Shop’s closing won’t just limit access to affordable groceries. It will also change the fabric of the neighborhood.

“I won’t be able to come around friends and shop around with friends,” Pierre said. “I have to go further, out of my time.”