BALTIMORE - After 83 years, family-owned business Santoni's Supermarket is closing its doors at the end of October.
Owner Rob Santoni, Jr. single-handedly blames the so-called bottle tax as the sole reason for the failure of the popular Highlandtown business.
According to a press release from Santoni, the store has lost an extra 10 percent in beverage sales since the tax went into effect. Prior to that percentage, the store was already losing money in what Santoni calls an "excess of $4 million."
Santoni's Supermarket will be forced to end a partnership with the city's health department which offered fresh food to "underserved" communities.
The store also offered a shuttle service in certain communities that will now cease to exist.
Santoni issued the following statement:
“The Mayor has refused to listen to small business leaders. She is stubborn and will not admit that the beverage tax was a wrong decision on her part. Her insistence that Baltimore retailers carry this burden has not only cost my family our business, but the jobs of my employees. What has taken 83 years to build has been torn down by one person and one bad law. The Mayor’s political arrogance is appalling. She obviously does not possess certain skills needed to run this City. The City has lost a great retailer and the Highlandtown community is losing a passionate and charitable partner.”
Santoni is looking to find a local buyer for the business.
ABC2 News reached out to the mayor's office for comment. In response to our request, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued the following statement in reaction to Santoni's Supermarket closing:
"I'm deeply saddened to learn that Santoni's Supermarket will be closing. Linking its closure to the bottle tax may be a good sound bite, but it doesn't square with the facts. By the supermarket's own admission, business struggled in recent years, which isn't surprising given the depths of the nation's recession and its impacts on local governments and businesses. My Administration supports small businesses, which is why we worked in partnership with Santoni's to establish our nationally renowned Virtual Supermarket Program that has provided healthy food choices to low-income residents and drove additional customers to the supermarket. It's important that we not lose sight of the facts. The beverage tax was critical to helping Baltimore close a massive budget deficit without cuts to city services and provided a dedicated funding stream to help secure a historic investment of $1 billion in school construction funds. No one likes tax increases, but kicking the can down the road when it comes to our financial solvency and investing in our children is not an option."
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