After more than 30 years in business, Dave’s Supermarket on Lakeshore Boulevard is closing April 30th, leaving Collinwood without a full-service grocery store in this area. Ward 8 council member Mike Polensek and Mayor Bibb issued a joint press release Monday, March 28 confirming the closure and stating that Dave’s would offer residents free transportation to its Euclid location.
Polensek said he was “disappointed and saddened” by the news. “They have been a fixture on Lakeshore Boulevard for over 30 years and many of our seniors and residents have depended on them for basic groceries,” he said. “It’s clear we must collectively develop a strategic economic plan to attract and keep full-service grocery stores in our neighborhoods, particularly in Cleveland’s northeast side.”
In the release, Bibb added, “Over the past two years, shopping habits have changed and we understand how challenging it is to operate a business in this economic climate. We must continue to invest in Cleveland neighborhoods and develop strategies to eradicate food deserts. Dave’s Markets are staples in our communities and we’re working closely with them to minimize the impact of this major loss.”
Residents reacted with frustration when they heard the news on social media. “As a resident that lives down the street from this Dave’s location — and a regular shopper there, to boot — our only alternatives left in this immediate vicinity are a Dollar General and a Family Dollar,” said Collinwood resident Adam Tully. “Neither of these stores are equitable to what Dave’s offers.”
“It’s a long way to go for folks in the highrises who can’t drive,” commented another resident.
Andre Daly, who shared the news on Twitter, said he learned the news when he was shopping there Friday. “I asked a worker how it was going, and he said it wasn’t,” said the Ward 8 resident. “That’s when I found out the store was going to close April 30th.”
There are several senior high rises in the area, including at the former Euclid Beach Park, Daly noted. The Land visited Dave’s Supermarket Euclid Beach on Monday, March 28 and found at least a dozen seniors in the store, several of them cruising around in motorized wheelchairs.
Daly wondered why the community was not notified sooner, and where residents would go for their groceries. “Now we’ll have to go elsewhere to buy our groceries, and some of us may not be able to,” he said. “Whose grandmother wants to get on a bus with groceries?”
In an interview with The Land, Polensek explained that he and Mayor Bibb learned the news a week earlier in the Mayor’s Red Room. The Saltzman family cited numerous reasons for the closure, including “low sales volume; drop in revenue; decrease in customer base; and, the fact that people’s shopping habits have changed with the advent of ‘dollar’ stores and online sales cutting into their bottom line,” Polensek said in a press release. “They were also hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and never fully recovered.”
The council member told The Land that the store was also seeing “more economically disadvantaged customers than ever before which accounts for over 60% of their customer base. With a landlord, who has not been responsive to their needs, the fact that their lease was up, and based on the economic realities they were confronted with, they decided to close the store.”
Montlack Management owns the building. The Land reached out to the building owner for comment by email and phone. The person who answered the phone at Montlack Management on Wed., March 30 declined an interview request, saying, “That’s not going to happen. He doesn’t interview, OK?”
At the city council meeting on Monday, March 28, Polensek railed against the landlord’s high rent, which he cited as $252,000 annually, an increase of 50% from Dave’s previous lease. Kirt Montlack responded this week by doing an interview with Cleveland.com in which he stated the increase in rent was due to Dave’s not being willing to sign a long-term lease, and he would have negotiated with them if they’d been willing to stay.
Mayor Bibb offered to provide assistance to help Dave’s to stay open, but he was told by the Saltzman family that they “needed to consolidate their operations to survive economically,” according to Polensek.
Greater Collinwood Community Development Corporation interim director Cynthia Brookins told The Land via email that the organization is working with Montlack to identify a future tenant for the space. Montlack Management also owns five other properties on Lakeshore Boulevard and East 156th Street, according to property records.
As a recent Cleveland.com story noted, this is only the latest challenge the city has had keeping major grocery stores. Most of the big chains have left. Grocery stores operate on tight profit margins of about 1% to 3%, making it difficult for them to survive in low-income communities. When Giant Eagle left the plaza at East 116th and Buckeye Road, it took several years before Simon’s Grocery moved in.
Dave’s, which helped launch the renaissance of Ohio City and quench food deserts in Central when it expanded across the city in the 1990s and 2000s, has itself made changes in recent years. The locally-owned company closed its flagship Payne Avenue location and opened a much larger store in Midtown in 2019. Its Arbor Park location at East 40th and Central also closed several years ago, leaving a hole in that retail strip.
The grocery chain also faces increased competition not only from online retailers and dollar stores, but also from Meijer, which is opening a 40,000 square foot store at East 105th St. and Cedar Ave. as part of a larger, mixed-use development in Fairfax.
The Land reached out to Dave’s officials, who were not immediately available for comment. But Polensek said that the closure of Dave’s Euclid Beach leaves the area without a full service grocery store. The nearest grocery stores are the Save a Lot on East 185th St. and the East Side Market on St. Clair Ave.
“At this point there is the bigger question as to what we collectively do on the east side of the city to provide an economic environment for full-service grocery stores to survive and grow,” he said. “Save for numerous convenient-type stores and ‘dollar’ stores, there will be no name brand full-service grocery store available to our residents except for those in the City of Euclid.”
“If we can subsidize the Cleveland Browns, The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Guardians to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year, then we should be able to come up with a plan to subsidize and /or attract grocery stores to our communities,” the council member added.
This is an ongoing story and will be updated with new information.
Lee Chilcote is executive director of The Land.
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