Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
Albertsons announced Tuesday that it is selling its store in Havre to Gary & Leo’s IGA, Havre’s only other full grocery store aside from the offerings at Wal-Mart and other discount stores, small markets and convenience stores. Gary & Leo’s plans to move its operations to the Albertsons location on Seventh Avenue and First Street. Donna Eggers, spokesperson for Albertsons, said in a telephone message that while there is still an inspection period before the purchase and sale agreement with Gary & Leo’s Inc. is final, the transaction is expected to be complete in late April. Eggers was unavailable for comment when called. An Albertsons press release said that after a careful examination of all the possible scenarios, they made the “difficult decision to sell this store.” Tracy Job, store manager for Gary & Leo’s, said Gary & Leo’s looks on the transaction as a chance to move to a larger store, bring in additional qualified staff and improve shopping in the area. “We viewed it as a wonderful opportunity for ourselves and our staff, to meld together our two groups,” Job said. “They have a lot of wonderful people working there we plan to bring as many on as we can.” Eggers said 33 full-time and 41 part-time employees work at the Havre Albertsons store. Albertsons employees who are not employed by Gary & Leo’s after the purchase will be eligible for a severance package. Job could not give definite dates, but said he expects the move to be made in late spring or early summer. Albertsons took over the Seventh Avenue store when it acquired the Buttreys grocery store chain in 1998. The Havre building had housed a Buttreys grocery, the last testament in Havre to the chain of Buttreys department stores that were founded here. In 1902, Frank A. Buttrey moved his store to Havre, first opening it as The Fair Store. Gary & Leo’s was opened in Havre in 1986 in its location on First Street and Montana Avenue, originally built to house a Safeway store. Job said the new location should be a benefit for Gary & Leo’s, including being located by a stop light and being near a residential neighborhood. The Albertsons store also has more floor space, he said. “It’s a larger building. We’re anticipating having some additional opportunities,” Job said. One of those opportunities is operating a pharmacy in the location now used by Albertsons Osco Pharmacy. Job said current Osco customers would be welcome to continue to have their prescriptions filled at Gary & Leo’s. “We don't intend to make any changes in the pharmacy,” he said. “(The transition) should be transparent, I hope. “ We want to do the best we can to be as good a store, as nice a place to shop, as we can be and as nice a place to work as we can be,” Job said.