PORT TOWNSEND — Aldrich’s Market, a 125-year-old fixture in Port Townsend, plans to shutter its doors permanently at the end of the month.
After years of financial struggle, the owners said the COVID-19 pandemic was the breaking point and they can’t afford to keep it open any longer.
The store has been owned by five families since it opened in 1895.
Scott and Robin Rogers bought the store at 940 Lawrence St. on Feb. 1, 2017, from Milton Fukuda and his family, who ran the grocery store for a decade before that, Scott said.
The store will sell groceries through April 30, its last day, Scott said.
Applying for additional loans and grants wouldn’t help, he added.
“Loans are not the answer, as we have yet to service the loan we have to purchase the store,” the Rogers family said in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Grants are only applicable if the business remains in business after the pandemic passes.”
Scott knew when they bought the business it was going to be a struggle to keep it running.
“Nobody sells a business that is doing well,” Scott said. “It’s been a struggle for three years. COVID is just a tipping point.
“It was reaching the end of the abyss and deciding enough is enough.”
Aldrich’s Market is the oldest grocery store in Washington state that has operated under the same trade name.
Through its history, only five families have owned it. They are the Aldrich family (1895-1983), John Clise (1983-96), David Hamilton (1996-2007), the Fukuda family (2007-17) and the Rogers family.
The store has been rebuilt a few times in its tenure. It helped families during the Great Depression, was rebuilt twice due to fires in 1900 and 2003, and it was well-used during World War II, according to the store’s history written by Pam McCollum Clise on the market’s website.
Running the business has been an experience of extreme highs and lows for the Rogers family, Scott said.
“It was the best of times and the worst of times,” he said. “It was life in a very compressed environment.”
“I think we did the right thing in buying it. I do believe a lot of good came out of this. We have absolutely enjoyed watching the growth of this.
“The hopes and dreams for the store didn’t match with where we ended up.”
Scott and Robin are working with the landlord on what the move-out process will look like, as Scott isn’t sure what they will do with the physical assets needed for the grocery store.
He said he’s willing to leave the equipment if the next lessee is a grocer, but if that’s not a possibility, “we have to figure out how to get rid of it,” he said.
“I guess the hardest part is not being able to do what we wanted to do,” Scott said. “The store has been our baby … our baby isn’t as relevant in this community as we may have liked.”
The next step for Scott is to rejoin the workforce to help pay back the debt the couple incurred as they ran the store, he said.
“I’m not exactly picking the best time in life to re-enter the job market,” he said.
Scott said he’s grateful to the staff and customers with whom he and Robin worked.
“We were allowed to become part of the customers’ lives,” Scott said. “Thank you to everybody that has ever been part of Aldrich’s.
“We’re really sorry that we have to go.”
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at email@example.com.