V. Richard’s, the long-time (read: nearly 20 years) specialty grocery store located in Birmingham’s Forest Park neighborhood announced it was closing today via a post to its fan page on Facebook. According to the photo included, the retailer’s lease was broken and everything must go, resulting in 50% discounts off of all meat, grocery, and produce items. There are no plans to reopen this business in another location (per the link included in our update). The news was shared a little less than four hours before the Microlove open house at Naked Art Gallery this evening. The closure means the closest grocery store for area residents is the Piggly Wiggly located at 3314 Clairmont Avenue.
Its entry on Bhamwiki provides a fairly complete history of the retailer. The business had operated along Clairmont Avenue since 1995, beginning with a space at 3908. It moved into its current location, 3916 Clairmont Avenue — the building formerly occupied by Payless Drugs, in 2004. It allowed for more space, seating for dining, and a considerable increase in customer parking.
V. Richard’s had explored expansion in the Birmingham market twice. It opened a second location in Homewood in 1999 but it closed within 18 months. The grocer had also been announced as an anchor tenant in 2010 for the long-awaited renovation of the Pizitz Building in Birmingham’s City Center, but as the project faced continuous delays it backed out.
The grocery’s parent company still operates Catherine’s Market, located at Lake Martin as part of the Russell Crossroads development. Another property once associated with the company, Enzo’s Market in Chattanooga, TN, closed in June 2014 and was replaced with a concept store called Grocery Bar. The V. Richard’s name will live on, however — the Brookfield, WI location bought from the Littles in 2002 still uses it (albeit in a smaller space than it first occupied).
UPDATE: Bryan Davis of the Birmingham Business Journal reports an inability of owner Ricky Little and the landlord to come to terms on a new lease agreement as the reason for the unexpected closing.
Photo: Courtesy of the V. Richard’s fan page on Facebook.