Once there were eight and now there are none.

On Wednesday, eight Skaggs Alpha Beta grocery stores ceased to exist.There were no tears. No hugs or handshakes, either. The good-byes had been said many days ago.

American Stores officials announced Dec. 27 they would close all eight of their Utah grocery stores Jan. 31.

Smith's Food and Drug Centers has leased seven of the stores and Albertson's has taken over the eighth location in Centerville.

Smith's apparently plans to remodel stores at 2399 S. Main in Bountiful, 10305 S. 1300 East in Sandy and 3171 E. 3300 South and reopen them as Smith's stores this spring.

Albertson's hired the majority of the full-time employees displaced by the Centerville closure and staged a grand opening celebration to fete the store's new identity, said store manager Doug Howell.

"They were all given an opportunity to apply with us and about 80 percent signed on with us. Almost all the employees were the ex-Alpha Beta employees," Howell said. Albertson's also has hired some of the Alpha Beta managers displaced by closures, he said.

Howell said Albertson's had reduced the prices of "literally thousands" of items sold in the former Skaggs Alpha Beta store. "Basically we're just trying to give good service at a good price," he said.

By sharp contrast, the former Skaggs Alpha Beta store at 3171 E. 3300 South stood empty Wednesday, a shell of its former self. The only signs of life were workmen who removed the Skaggs Alpha Beta sign from the storefront.

The store closures affected 1,256 employees and created one of the largest layoffs of 1989. American Stores Co., the parent company of Skaggs Alpha Beta, agreed in accordance with federal law to pay wages and benefits through Feb. 28 to full-time Skaggs Alpha Beta employees displaced by the store closures.

Meanwhile, American Stores officials were scheduled Thursday to meet with directors of the Job Training Partnership Act's Utah programs to schedule workshops to help eligible displaced employees find new jobs or retrain for other industries, said Gary E. Gardner, Utah supervisor of the federal dislocated workers program, in a telephone interview Wednesday.

(Additional information)

What will future bring for the defunct stores?

Locations leased by Smith's Food and Drug Centers Inc.

- 2399 S. Main, Bountiful

- 10305 S. 1300 East, Sandy

- 3171 E. 3300 South, unincorporated Salt Lake County

- 5530 S. Van Winkle Expressway, Holladay

- 7800 S Redwood Road, West Jorda

- 3934 W. 3500 South, West Valley City

Location assumed by Albertson's Inc. of Boise

- 84 W. Parrish Lane, Centerville