The company’s CEO wrote a letter to residents of nearby apartment buildings, notifying them of the closure.
After Friday night, residents of apartment buildings near West High School in Salt Lake City will no longer have a convenient market for shopping.
Lee’s Market at 255 N. 400 West in Salt Lake City is closing, the company’s CEO told neighbors in a letter Thursday. The move comes less than three years after the market opened in Salt Lake City’s Marmalade neighborhood, in an area that was 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 will close effective Saturday evening. However, cashiers at the Friday store said Friday would be the last day of business 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 format you would 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 style of shopping is not yet conducive to the Salt Lake City area.”
In a statement, management at 4th West and Hardware Apartments said, “We have enjoyed our partnership with Lee’s Market over the past three years and are sad to see them go.” Apartment complexes called Lee’s “an invaluable amenity for our residents.”
The resorts said they “will endeavor to re-lease the space to another high-quality company to help meet the needs of our residents and the local community.”
The store opened to much fanfare in February 2020, with predictions that it would attract residents of the Capitol Hill and Marmelade neighborhoods, as well as students and faculty from nearby West High School.
At the time, the 4th West store was Lee’s Market’s sixth 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 found in more suburban and rural markets, such as Heber, Logan, Smithfield and Herriman. While researching how to run a store in an urban setting, company officials traveled to Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis.
In 2020, Badger told The Tribune that the store was an entirely 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 roast chicken. It also featured amenities that Lee had never tried before, such as a cheese maker and cafe.
Badger, in 2020, said he was optimistic about the future of the store, as a mail was sent prematurely to surrounding neighborhoods with a coupon for a free bag of chips. Before the store opened, Badger said, “tons of people came in with their coupons.”
With Lee gone, the closest grocery store for residents of 4th West and Hardware Apartments is four blocks south at The Store in The Gateway, which follows a similar urban market format. Further afield are the Harmons in City Creek and Smith’s stores in the Avenues and Rose Park.