Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

The news comes on same day another local grocer expands

A longtime grocery retailer announced the closing of a Crescent City store Wednesday while another store opened at a new, larger location.

The Ray's Food Place grocery store in Crescent City is closing Feb. 3, the store's owners said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Wild Rivers Market opened an expanded natural foods store a few blocks away.

The decision to close the Ray's store in Crescent City is "due to an increased presence of retail competitors and the continued decline in the economic climate," parent company CandK Market, Inc. said in a press release.

In November, Walmart expanded its Crescent City store on Washington Boulevard to include a larger grocery section.

Customers shopping at Ray's on Wednesday were disappointed about the news.

"Everybody was really bummed out," said Heather Arnold, a Fort Dick resident who shops at the Smith River Ray's store but gets lunch from the one in Crescent City. "It's sad to see a locally owned place have to bow down to other places."

Her dismay stems largely from what will happen to the employees, whom she has come to know on a first-name basis.

"Right now it's just hard finding anything," said Arnold.

Twenty-five employees are affected by the closure. They will have an opportunity to work at other stores owned by CandK Market, Inc., which also owns Shop Smart, said Grant Lunde, a company spokesman.

"Our intent is to offer jobs, within our family of stores, to all current employees," said Greg Sandeno, president and chief executive officer, in the press release.

"We would like to thank the Crescent City community for its support of our Ray's store over the past 22 years and remind everyone that CandK Market also operates Shop Smart Foods in Crescent City, which will remain open and ready to serve customers seeking a local choice for groceries," Sandeno said.

CandK Market, Inc. is based in Brookings, Ore. It operates 65 grocery stores and 15 pharmacies under the banners of Ray's Food Place, Shop Smart, CandK Market, Lo Buck$, Pharmacy Express, Chetco Pharmacy and Tiffany's Drug.

A few blocks south of the Ray's store on U.S. Highway 101, the Wild Rivers Market opened the doors at its new location Wednesday, although a grand opening is set for Feb. 1.

Wild Rivers has operated a natural food store in Crescent City since 1986, when the first location opened as Crescent Health Foods in the Y Shopping Center. In 1992, it changed locations and its name to Harvest Natural Foods, which was located at U.S. Highway 101 South and 3rd Street until it closed Tuesday for itsexpanded successor.

The market has tripled its size to 5,000 square feet, dedicating a portion of the space to local organic produce and grass-fed organic beef.

"It's gone pretty much without a hitch," said owner Rick Littlefield, who also owns Eureka Natural Foods.

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