The sinking loonie has helped shutter the doors of a 57-year-old Sumas, Wash., institution frequented by Abbotsford residents.
Around 80 years after a grocery store first opened at the intersection of Cherry and Cleveland Street, Bromley’s Market closed for good Wednesday, a victim, in part, of declining numbers of cross-border shoppers.
There was a day when Canadians would line up at the tills of Bromley’s, looking to save a buck or three on dairy products and other groceries. When the dollar was strong, nearly half of all the store’s customers may have been Canadian, owner Bob Bromley said. But those numbers have fallen sharply since the Canadian dollar started losing ground to its U.S. counterpart two and a half years ago.
Last month, The News reported that the number of people crossing the border into Sumas last year had decreased by one-third from 2013, when the loonie was near parity. Bromley, who is also Sumas’s mayor, says other businesses in the town have been struggling.
With the Canadian customer base staying away, other expenses piling up, and the U.S. retail industry experiencing significant upheaval, Bromley decided last Monday to shutter the store. It was a tough decision: the Bromley family had operated the grocery store since 1960, and Bob Bromley himself had worked at the market in one capacity or another since he was nine years old.
“We’ve been waiting to see if things would pick up for months,” he said. The winter and spring had been difficult, and although summer promised better times and more Canadians heading south, the customers hadn’t returned in enough numbers to keep the store open.
The day of the decision was tough, Bromley said, but by Wednesday, his primary emotion was that of relief. Most of the inventory had already been snatched up, and the rest was on steep discount.
He’d also heard from many customers over the years, and said he was gratified by the number of well-wishers he’d spoken to.
“That might be the hardest part, just because you know them,” he said. “I’m just thankful for the 57 years and everybody who came and shopped with us.”
The nearest American grocery store is now located 13 kilometres away from Sumas in Everson.