Southern Season to close Richmond store, shift toward smaller retail concept

The company says the 53,000-square-foot store at Libbie Mill was too large and expensive to keep open.

Southern Season will close its Richmond store at Libbie Mill later this month, the company announced in a news release Monday morning. The gourmet grocery retailer opened in July of 2014 at the mixed use development on Staples Mill Road. It was the fourth location for the Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based grocer.

The store’s deli, bakery, and in-store restaurant Southerly will close today. The store itself will close on April 24th.

Company officials say the move will allow Southern Season to focus on opening stores with smaller footprints. Two such stores, a 25,000-square-foot Southern Season to be located in Atlanta and a smaller Taste of Southern Season store in Biltmore Village near Asheville, North Carolina, were announced alongside the Richmond closure. Another “Taste” concept is planned for Charlottesville. The stores, between 4,000 and 7,000 square feet, will offer a smaller selection of the store’s best selling items. The company plans to open upwards of 30 of them in the next several years.

Southern Season’s flagship Chapel Hill store is 60,000 square feet; Richmond is around 53,000. Executives say the company is simply “following the (downward) trend in retail store size” in its decision to focus on locations of a smaller size.

“In today’s rapidly evolving retail environment, it is essential that Southern Season maintain a portfolio of the right size stores in the perfect locations,” Southern Season said in the news release. “It became apparent to the company that the Richmond store was too large and too expensive to keep open. The decision to close this store was made after careful consideration of the long-term financial performance of this location.”

Eligible store employees are being offered the option to transfer to other Southern Season stores or to receive a separation package.

Southern Season’s decision to pull out of Libbie Mill comes at a time of increased competition and shuffling among the Richmond grocery market. Wegmans is currently building two Richmond area stores, Publix has announced entry into Richmond with a store in the West End, and Martin’s announced its intention to sell all of its local stores in the coming months ahead of a merger with Food Lion.

“We thank our valued Richmond customers for their loyalty,” said Dave Herman, President of Southern Season. “We look forward to seeing them over the next few weeks at our storewide sale and invite them to continue to shop with us online and at one of our upcoming Virginia Taste Stores.”

File photo: Trevor Dickerson/RVANews

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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