I dislike commenting on business matters, but the news today about the future of the grocery business in Amarillo is disturbing on its face.
Albertsons is buying United Supermarkets. Albertsons is based in Boise, Idaho; United is based right here in West Texas, in Lubbock. We’ve been shopping at United almost from the day we arrived in Amarillo back in early 1995. Albertsons now is planning to buy all seven Amarillo outlets.
Albertsons is not a bad grocery store chain. I’ve been familiar with the company going back to my youth growing up in Portland, Ore.
Something about this buyout, however, makes me nervous.
Perhaps it has something to do with how well Albertsons has done in Amarillo during the years we’ve lived here. From where I sit, not very well.
Albertsons has closed at least two big stores here. One of the closures was particularly troubling, in that it built a new structure at the corner of Interstate 40 and Washington Street, only to close the place altogether six or seven years later.
United, meanwhile, has been growing in Amarillo and indeed throughout West Texas. It’s building a new store along Soncy Road. United has opened outlets in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The company has prided itself on being in business since 1917, for crying out loud.
Now it’s about to vanish.
I am not privy to what persuaded the family that owns United to sell to a supermarket chain based so far away.
The way I’ve always looked at United, though, is that it was the next best thing to buying “local,” given its home base just two hours south of Amarillo.
It’s the end of a retail era in Amarillo, and it saddens me.