MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A grocery store war in the Twin Cities is claiming two more casualties. The Rainbow Foods in Columbia Heights closed Wednesday and the Rainbow store in Brooklyn Park will close on Feb. 16.
It’s become an increasingly competitive food market in the Twin Cities, especially with Walmart ramping up its grocery sales.
Longtime Rainbow shopper Lynette Thomson heard the news earlier Wednesday and rushed over for one more chance to shop.
“I was here on the first day when it opened,” she said, “and I wanted to come on the last day.”
Crews wasted no time taking down the giant Rainbow sign at the front of the Columbia Heights store in the hours before it closed.
“It’s like losing a friend,” Erin Reed of Columbia Heights said.
“That’s why I came today, just to pretty much come to cry,” Sandra Bucher said.
Rainbow’s parent company is blaming the economy and increased competition. The Columbia Heights store is just 10 blocks from a Super Target that has a fully stocked grocery section of its own.
“The Twin Cities is in the midst of a food fight,” University of St. Thomas marketing professor David Brennan said, “and it has been for five or six years.”
Walmart has been the most aggressive, offering its price comparisons with the market leader, Cub Foods.
But several other grocers have been increasing their presence as well.
“We’ve had Whole Foods come in, we’ve had Trader Joe’s,” said Brennan, “we’ve got Aldi’s and so on and so forth.”
The bull’s-eye is on Cub as the market leader but Rainbow, with fewer stores, seems to be hurting the most from this increased competition.
“They’re being eaten away by the true discounters like Aldi’s, as an example,” Brennan said, “and at the high end by Kowalski’s and Lunds and Byerly’s, so they’re kind of caught in between.”
Now, those who stayed loyal to Rainbow are sad that they’ll now have one less option in their area.
“You meet your neighbors and we’re all income levels,” Thomson said, “and that’s what I really liked about this store.”