Wal-Mart being blamed for closure of La Mesa Ralphs grocery store

Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market opened in same lot

LA MESA, Calif. - A local Ralphs supermarket is closing, and some people are blaming retail giant Wal-Mart.

Some Ralphs employees told 10News their La Mesa store will close in February next year and all of the employees will be transferred to other Ralphs stores.

Grocery union leaders told 10News the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, which opened just a few weeks ago, is to blame. Both stores are about 100 yards apart with a shared parking lot.

"In my opinion, it's closing because of Wal-Mart," said UFCW Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian.

Kasparian said the Wal-Mart, which is San Diego County's first Wal-Mart standalone grocery store, opened with promises of competitive prices and more jobs for La Mesa. He argued it did just the opposite.

"There are jobs now, good jobs, with health care [at Ralphs] that have been replaced by minimum wage jobs with no health care," he said.

Kasparian added Walmart is undercutting prices and once Ralphs leaves, the chain will probably raise those prices.

10News did a quick price comparison on common items on the shelves in both stores. Side-by-side, both stores were pretty equal when comparing a gallon of Alta Dena whole milk, Campbell's tomato soup, a dozen large eggs, a head of lettuce and a pound of ground beef. Ralphs was slightly more expensive mostly because Wal-Mart was selling milk for a much higher price.

Wal-Mart's store manager said the competition is good.

"I've been in Wal-Marts [for 19 years] in the same parking lot as other competitors and they're still there," said manager Todd Raley.

Ralphs has been in its current La Mesa location for more than 30 years. Employees told 10News it will close February 1, 2013.

A new Ralphs store is slated to open at Liberty Station, and all the La Mesa employees would be transferred to other existing stores.

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