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Giant Replies July 24, 2008

This is Giant's reply to my July 23 email (at bottom of this article)

From: ConsumerAffairs@giantofmaryland.com
Date: Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:05 PM
Subject: Ref # 499778 - Reply from Giant Consumer Affairs
To: Garold Stone

Thank you for sharing your concerns related to the pending closing of the Giant Food store in the Town Center shopping center. We do understand that many residents living in South Laurel will be affected by the closing of this store and we apologize to the community for any inconvenience. It was a very difficult business decision to close this store.

I am pleased to inform you that we are working with the management at Park View of Laurel Apartments to coordinate a shuttle service for their residents to the Giant store in the Laurel Center on Route 1. The details of the shuttle service still need to be finalized but we anticipate that the shuttle will run several days a week at various times that are convenient for the residents. The shuttle service should begin running in early August. We are also working with Peapod to proactively communicate their home delivery services as we understand that this is a convenient option for many residents who are unable to drive to a grocery store. Finally, our Real Estate department is actively seeking a replacement tenant to occupy the space where the Town Center Giant is currently located.

Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. We look forward to continuing to serve the residents of Laurel for years to come.

Sincerely,


Deborah Riley
Supervisor, Consumer Affairs

============================================

FROM: Garold Stone, July 23, 2008

TO: Jackie Pullman, Customer Care Representative, Giant Food of Maryland

cc: Prince George's County Council District 1, Tom Dernoga (nb: Judy Thacher)
MD District 21 Senator Jim Rosapepe
MD District 21 Delagate Barbara Frush
MD District 21 Delegate Ben Barnes
MD District 21 Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk
MD District 23 Senator Douglas Peters
MD District 23A Delegate Gerron.Levi
MD District 23A Delegate James Hubbard
Prince George's County Board of Education District 1 Member, Rosalind Johnson
Prince George's County Board of Education At-Large Member, Donna Hathaway-Beck
South Laurel Community Associations Leaders
Coalition for Laurel Area Safety and Prosperity

In your recent email reply to a South Laurel resident you said:

QUOTE:
We never like to affect our customers or associates by closing our stores. We hope that our customers will be able to shop at the following nearby Giant locations:

1009 Fairlawn Street in Laurel, MD
11701 Beltsville Drive in Beltsville, MD
END QUOTE:

Unfortunately, the closing of your store will have severe adverse consequences for many of your former customers who live in South Laurel, especially those who can't possibly shop at those other Giant locations, which are not at all "nearby", particularly for those without cars, such as but not limited to, residents of the Park View Senior Apartments across the street from the Town Center Giant and the immediate surrounding homes and apartments. And this does not tally the loss of future donations to local schools and other community service organizations via the now vanishing Town Center Giant.

I ask that you please tell me what all Giant is doing already and plans to do soon to mitigate the great suffering in our community caused by the abrupt closing of your Town Center store.

Ideally, Giant of Maryland would have worked beforehand with the local community and local county government officials to facilitate another (competitor) grocery store moving into your abandoned building as soon as possible after July 31, or otherwise soften the impacts.

That notwithstanding, please consider what other tangible ways you might mitigate our suffering. You could create, distribute and publicize (in local newspapers, on your web sites, etc.) information identifying public transportation services that would help car-less South Laurel residents actually get to your other "nearby" Giant locations. And since for some, especially the elderly, a grocery-laden bus ride even as far as to the Route 1 Giant is out of the question, that transportation list should include the closer (competitor) Bottom Dollar food store, which is still too far to walk to for many in South Laurel. While you are at it, you could also mention PeaPod.com for home food delivery. You get the idea -- be creative, be caring, leave no customer behind !

The compelling question now is what, if anything, will Giant actually be doing to ease the pain in our community being caused by your store's sudden departure. Just a few hours work by Giant, costing just a few hundred dollars, could mitigate a callous breach of the trust with our community that Giant has worked so hard for decades to earn, with positive consequences for your company's reputation as a good neighbor business, not just in the Laurel area but throughout the region. Some of us may be car-less but we are not clueless. Your actions here and now will resonate broadly into the future. Can we "Trust Giant" to do the right, humanely compassionate things for the people of South Laurel even as you leave our community ?

I hope your timely and well-considered answer will give real meaning to your words -
"We never like to affect our customers or associates by closing our stores."