LAYTON — Dick's Market won't be ringing in 2011 with a New Year's Day sale or any sale for that matter.

The longtime grocery store on Fairfield Road will close its doors Dec. 31, apparently the victim of a supermarket glut in Utah. The store, formerly called Dan's Foods, has operated in the north Davis community since 1967.

"That's a store that has struggled for years and years," said Steve Rich, vice president of marketing for Associated Foods retail store, adding the company had heavily subsidized Dick's to keep it open. "The area is just over-stored."

The market had loyal customers but not enough to make it profitable, he said. About 40 full-time employees or 90 percent of the workforce at Dick's are being placed with other Associated Foods stores, he said.

"It's very sad," he said. "It's always tough when people are involved."

The closure marks the fifth grocery store Salt Lake-based Associated Foods has closed in the past couple of months. It shut down three Fresh Market locations — two in Salt Lake City and one in Provo — in October. The three were among 34 former Albertsons stores Associated Foods bought in fall 2009 from Minneapolis-based Supervalu and renamed Fresh Market. The company also closed Lin's Marketplace in Richfield in November.

Besides the Fresh Market stores, Associated Foods operates 22 other corporate stores under separate names, including Macey's, Dan's Foods, Lin's Marketplace and Dick's Market.

Competition for Utahns' food dollar is keen.

In Layton, Dick's Market is surrounded by competitors, including a nearby Fresh Market, a Smith's across the street and Bowman's Market in neighboring Kaysville. Regional discount supermarket retailer WinCo Foods plans to open a 95,000 square-foot store in Layton next year.

Rich said national food chains come into already saturated markets willing to wait it out to see who can last longest. Cities let grocery stores in thinking it will be great for the local economy without thinking about what it means for existing businesses, he said.

"It makes it tough on our locally owned stores because they don't have 50 stores in others states that can carry them," he said.

But, Rich said, locally owned stores are able hang because they have a "tough, entrepreneurial attitude" and know what Utah customers want.

Associated Foods bought the 34 Albertsons stores last year knowing some were not doing well and spent the past year evaluating all of them.

"We looked at viable ones. We looked at ones that don't make sense. That's part of the process," Rich said.

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As a result, it decided to close two in Salt Lake City and one in Provo. The company could not offer positions to all store employees affected by the closures "due to the current status of the economy," according to Neil Berube, president of Fresh Markets.

Overall, Rich said the Fresh Market stores, which Associated Foods bought when the economic downturn was at its worst, have picked up traction and are showing some sales increases across the board. Grocery stores shoot for a 2 percent profit margin, he said.

Coupons have made a comeback and shoppers rely more on lists, meal plans and budgets, Rich said. They're also frequently going to store websites to look for additional savings offers. "People are using that more than ever before," he said.

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