Coronavirus pushes 125-year-old grocery store in Port Townsend to close for good

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- This week one of the oldest grocery stores in Washington, if not the oldest, announced it would be closing, and one major factor is COVID-19.

Scott Rogers and his wife Robin own Aldrich’s Market in Port Townsend.

Roger says the neighborhood grocery store has served the community since the 1800s, about 125 years.

“Everybody knows something about Aldrich’s; everybody has an Aldrich’s story,” said Rogers.

For three years, the married team made the grocery store their own, and say they felt a deep connection to the community.

“Seeing people come in and every day you get to know them by name, you get to know their families, you become a part of their families,” he said.

That is why the decision to close the grocery store at the end of April is so difficult.

Rogers says it was already a challenge keeping the store open with stiff competition from box stores. However, he says when COVID-19 hit, that was the final straw for the business.

“It’s difficult; it hurts,” he said. “We love the people that work for us. They are a part of our family. We’re having to cut them loose at the end of the month and not in a situation where I know they are going to be able to run out and get another job. So, that hurt,” Rogers added.

The community of Port Townsend is feeling the impact, too.

When Rogers announced he would be closing the store on Facebook this week, the comments came flooding in.

“Your presence in the community has been such a light,” said Melanie Lockhart in a Facebook post.

“I’m heartbroken to see this,” said Brooke Saul in a Facebook post.

Rogers says the support has been amazing.

“On behalf of Robin, and myself, thank you. Thank you for the warmth and acceptance they’ve always had for us,” he said.

The grocery store’s last day is April 30th. They will have reduced hours through the remainder of the month, and hope to sell as much of their product before they close.