The company’s CEO wrote a letter to residents of nearby apartment buildings, informing them of the closure.
| October 28, 2022, 9:27 PM
| Updated: 10:18 PM
After Friday night, residents of the condominiums near Salt Lake City’s West High School don’t have a convenient market for grocery shopping.
Lee’s Market, at 255 N. 400 West in Salt Lake City, is closing, the company’s CEO said in a letter to neighbors on Thursday. The move comes less than three years after the market opened in Salt Lake City’s Marmalade neighborhood, in an area that had been a “food desert” with no nearby markets.
In his letter to residents of the 4th West and Hardware Apartments, Jonathan Badger, president and CEO of Lee’s Markets, said the store would close effective Saturday night. However, cashiers at the store said Friday that Friday would be the last working day there.
Badger wrote that the “decision to close the store is a result of the lack of volume entering the store from surrounding areas, the COVID-19 pandemic and public accessibility.”
The market used “the urban store size you’d find in a high-density city like New York, Chicago or Boston was a test for our business,” Badger wrote. “Unfortunately, we have found that this type of shopping is not yet conducive to the Salt Lake City area.”
In a statement, management of the 4th West and Hardware Apartments said, “We have appreciated our partnership with Lee’s Market over the past three years and are saddened to see them leave.” The apartment complexes called Lee’s “a valued amenity for our residents.”
The complexes said they will “effort to re-rent the space to another high-quality company to help meet the needs of our residents and the local community.”
The store opened in February 2020 to much fanfare, with predictions that it would attract residents from the Capitol Hill and Marmalade neighborhoods, as well as students and faculty at nearby West High School.
At the time, the 4th West store was the sixth Lee’s Market location and the first in Salt Lake City. Since then, Lee’s has opened stores in North Salt Lake and Ogden.
The company’s stores are typically located in more suburban and rural markets, such as Heber, Logan, Smithfield and Herriman. For their research into running a retail store in an urban location, company officials traveled to Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis.
In 2020, Badger told The Tribune that the store was a completely new model for the company, as its footprint was less than 10,000 square feet. The store did not have a pharmacy, but was otherwise a full-service grocery store, with produce, a meat counter, a frozen food aisle, and ready-to-eat meals, including sushi and rotisserie chicken. It also featured amenities Lee’s had never tried before, such as a cheesemonger and coffee shop.
Badger said he was optimistic about the store’s future in 2020, as a premature mailing was sent to surrounding neighborhoods with a coupon for a free bag of chips. Before the store opened, Badger said, “loads of people were coming with their coupons.”
With Lee gone, the nearest grocery store for residents of 4th West and Hardware Apartments is four blocks south, at The Store at The Gateway, which follows a similar urban market format. Further afield are the Harmons in City Creek and the Smith’s stores in the Avenues and Rose Park.