Genuardi’s supermarkets in Barnegat and Egg Harbor townships will be closing this December after Safeway, its parent company, failed to find a buyer, a store manager said Tuesday.

Between the two stores, more than 150 people could lose their jobs.

Paul McCloskey, manager of the Egg Harbor Township store, said its 90 employees were told of the Dec. 15 closure Monday. The store will remain fully operational until that date, he said.

“I was surprised as anyone,” said McCloskey, 52, of Berlin Township, who’s been with the company for 35 years. “It’s very unfortunate for everyone, especially at this time of the year.”

Earlier this year, the Genuardi’s supermarkets had been put up for sale. Safeway has decided to exit the Philadelphia market to concentrate on other areas, a company spokesman said in January.

The Barnegat store, off Bay Avenue, opened in 1999; the Egg Harbor Township store on Fire Road followed in 2001.

Egg Harbor Township Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough, said he was informed of the closure by an employee Tuesday and confirmed it with the store.

“It’s a shame if all these people lose their jobs around Christmas,” McCullough said.

Sara Kingsley, an associate at the Barnegat Genuardi’s, said 66 employees will be terminated there when the store closes Dec. 15. The store’s manager was not available.

A Safeway representantive did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Customers said the loss of the Egg Harbor Township supermarket would force them to change their shopping plans in an area with few alternatives. Genuardi’s would be the second supermarket, after Pathmark, to close this year in the township.

Shoppers at Genuardi’s Tuesday afternoon said they were sad to hear it is closing.

Adrianne Larson, of Northfield, isn’t sure where she will shop next.

“I used to shop at Superfresh. They’re gone,” she said. “I can go to Mazzeo’s. I can go to Tilton Market. They’re smaller community markets but they’re more expensive and they don’t carry the variety of food. I like the deli; they have very good service at the deli. I like that they have a bakery. That makes it convenient. The fish monger is great. I hope to find out where he’s going.”

Sabina Musciano, of Galloway, was leaving the store carrying stacks of frozen pizzas.

“Quite truthfully I drive 15 miles because I love their pizza,” she said. “I’m really upset. I live next to ShopRite. But you should try this pizza. My kids like it better than store-bought, like if I order it from a pizzeria.”

Lino Marroquin, of Cape May, doesn’t often shop at Genuardi’s but he does use it for its PNC Bank. He works near the store and stops by on his way home.

“I didn’t know it was closing,” he said. “That’s not good. Since I’ve been coming here to bank, I sometimes shop here as well.”

McCloskey said the store is still ordering groceries from suppliers and will remain fully stocked until about two weeks prior to the closure.

“Everyone will be pretty much employed to the very end, a week prior, although some of them may not be getting many hours,” he said.

Linda Lutheke, 60, of the Scullville section of the township, said the store is on the way home from the Prism Career Center, where she’s training to receive a medical assistant certification. The store has always had quality foods and reasonable prices, she said.

“I’m going to have to go all the way to the ShopRite in Somers Point,” she said. “It’s inconvenient for me trying to get home, put food on the table and then study.”

Matt Driver, 53, of the English Creek section of the township, said he goes out of his way to Genuardi’s because it offers better service and food than its competitors.

“Maybe we’ll get a Wegmans, now,” he said.

Karen Schwab, who was loading pumpkins into her cart outside the store Tuesday, said there are few grocery stores in the area to turn to.

“It’s sad,” she said. “They could really use a store like this.”

Staff writer David Simpson contributed to this story

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