The Mars Super Markets stores in Bel Air and Aberdeen will be closing soon, officials with the Baltimore-based grocery chain announced recently.
The Mars Super Market in Bel Air Plaza Shopping Center on Baltimore Pike will be closing for good on Jan. 25, according to a sign posted at the entrance.
The customers of the store, which opened in 2011, were thanked for their three years of support, according to the sign.
Mars, which is headquartered in Rosedale and operates 17 stores in Central Maryland, is also scheduled to close its store in the Aberdeen Marketplace shopping center off Beards Hill Road, along with its store in the Dogwood Station shopping center west of Baltimore and in the Pine Grove Shopping Center in Anne Arundel County.
Those three will close around May 1, according to an emailed statement from the company. The Aberdeen store opened in 1993 and it was remodeled in 1995, according to Kathleen Shaffer, a spokeswoman for Mars.
Chairman and CEO Chris D'Anna said in the statement the four stores are being closed "due to ever-increasing competition in the grocery business."
"We took great pride in serving these communities, and we would like to thank our loyal customers," D'Anna continued. "Other Mars locations throughout Maryland will remain open and will continue to provide the quality and service you have come to expect from the 'The Friendly Food People.' "
Mars operates a third store in Harford County, in Woodbridge Center on Pulaski Highway in Edgewood.
Denise Carnaggio, deputy director of the Harford County Office of Economic Development, noted Mars has "a very loyal customer base" in Harford, including people who have moved from the Baltimore area.
Carnaggio said Harford County's population has diversified in recent years as new residents move in from out of state with the BRAC process.
"It really has grown, in terms of diversity of people coming into this community, and I think there is enough for everyone," she said of the corresponding diversity of grocery chains.
She also noted the economic development office is working with the Susquehanna Workforce Network to support employees who will be losing their positions when the stores close.
While it might appear to the casual observer that Harford County is saturated with grocery chains such as Klein's ShopRite, Weis Markets and Walmart, Steve Johnson, the chairman of the Aberdeen Economic Development Commission, noted individual chains and businesses can still be competitive.
"We have a lot of businesses that are saturated," Johnson said.
Johnson, who owns the independent Johnson Family Pharmacy in downtown Aberdeen with his wife, noted there are "hundreds of pharmacies" in Harford County.
"It's not so much the competition," he explained. "It's how well you market and sell your products and how well you manage your store."
Johnson said each chain has developed its own niche that makes it attractive to the customer base.
"Mars has done a great job in keeping an up-to-date look," he said.