H-CENTRAL COAST

Apr 13, 2012 2:44 AM by Ariel Wesler

Scolari's closing Central Coast grocery stores

A popular grocery chain is closing on the Central Coast after more than 60 years.

Scolari's Market announced Thursday it will shut down all four locations in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara.

The Scolari family called its decision "gut-wrenching." We don't have exact numbers, but an employee said about 50 people work at the San Luis Obispo store, so with four stores in total, it's likely about 200 people will lose their jobs.

For Megan Selby, news of Scolari's closure was so upsetting, she called her mom.

"Now, I'm gonna have to get the car to get my groceries. It's going to change my whole lifestyle," she said talking on her cell phone.

Selby lives down the street from the store and is a loyal shopper.

"We don't stock up on our food. We just get that day's groceries. It's like having a big refrigerator right across the street," she said.

Unfortunately, many others weren't so committed. The economic downturn hit the stores hard in 2009 and the family struggled to hang on ever since, battling increased competition.

"With new stores like Walmarts and Costcos, it's just harder and harder for small independents to be able to survive and Scolari's gave it their best shot," said Randy Poltl, Scolari's Real Estate Representative.

The family sold three of its four locations to NKT Commercial, which is owned by another local family.

"The Thompkins family apparently goes all the way back to the 1830s in the Santa Maria Valley," Poltl said.

Many said Scolari's had a hometown feel, a place with familiar faces.

Ariel: What did you like most about shopping here?

"All in all, the people," said Scott Prentis, who's a longtime customer.

"I did find the prices were a little high but the convenience factor was nice because it's kinda the only grocery store in the area," said Jaime Lockhart, another local shopper.

As for Megan Selby, she's hoping for another grocery store with that same local feel.

"You see the farmer dropping off the strawberries in the morning, right out of the back of the pickup truck," Selby said.

"I'm just bummed. This is my grocery store."

The Scolari family does not own the Pismo Beach property and is letting their lease expire.

As for the other three stores, NKT Commercial is currently in talks to lease its locations to retailers or grocers and expects to make an announcement soon.

All four Scolari's locations will close within 60 days. The family plans to focus its full attention on the remaining 14 stores in Northern Nevada.

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