‘Very upsetting’: Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue’s lone grocery store set to close

Click to play video: 'Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue’s Marché Ami Plus grocer to close again'
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue’s Marché Ami Plus grocer to close again
Construction on the Île aux Tourtes Bridge is being partially blamed for the closure of the only grocery store in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. It's the second time in one year that Marché Ami Plus is closing, and this time it might be for good. As Phil Carpenter reports, seniors, especially ones without a car, say they now worry about how they will get basic food items – Apr 6, 2024

Construction on the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge is being partially blamed for the closure of the only grocery store in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, putting people in the Montreal suburb in a bind.

“Well, the local people with no cars are in trouble,” says resident Valerie Brecknock.

Owners Claude McSween and his wife Lory Vansteene of the Marché Ami announced Saturday morning that they will close later this month, for good. They say they’re too upset to speak publicly about the issue now, and in a press release they blamed economic conditions.

“Despite numerous sacrifices, both financial and personal, the current economic context as well as operational costs unfortunately do not allow us to continue our activity,” they write. “Several elements have worked against us and considerably affected the volume of our sales, in particular the closure of the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge.”

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“It’s very upsetting for us that we don’t have a store,” Anne Skowronski, an elderly shopper, tells Global News. “It’s very necessary to have a grocery store in our town.”

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Beam reinforcement work on the Île-aux-Tourtes has forced the closure of some lanes since late last year and some weekends have seen the entire span shut, making commuting a challenge for people off the island.

However, the store has been facing financial challenges since before the bridge’s construction. It was called Marché Richelieu and closed in early 2023 due to bankruptcy. The new owners took over and reopened months later. Mayor Paola Hawa says she’s saddened to learn of the upcoming closure.

“I was speaking with Mr. McSween this morning and, you know, they’ve tried everything,” she tells Global News. “They turned the papers upside down and calculated every way that they could and it’s just not in the cards.”

Brecknock agrees that the owners tried, but worries the planned closure is just the latest sign of economic challenges in the town.

“Our town has no gas station, no bank and no store,” she points out.

Resident Bob Callen argues that it’s the seniors like him who don’t drive, who are going to pay the dearest price when Marché Ami closes, noting, “anywhere else I go I have to walk a long distance to get to the bus, and if you’ve got a lot of groceries, it’s hard.”

Anne Skowronski, another elder and long-time client, is also worried.

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“I don’t know. We’ll just have to figure it out,” she says. “I’m just going to hope and pray that somebody else comes and sees there’s a possibility here in a different way.”

The store’s last day is April 20.

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