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MOUNT PLEASANT — With new competition from an incoming Wal-Mart on the horizon, Mount Pleasant’s Albrecht Sentry Foods is closing in early January, a company representative said Thursday, Nov. 8.

Albrecht Foods General Manager Greg Schilz broke the news to Sentry’s approximately 60 employees Wednesday, Nov. 7, night.

“They were disappointed,” Schilz said. “We’re all disappointed.”

According to Schilz, the 5740 Washington Ave. Sentry has struggled since it first opened in April 2007, competing with the Pick ‘n Save, GFS Marketplace and Piggly Wiggly all located near the same Highway 20 and 31 intersection.

“It’s a business decision,” Schilz said of the closure. “Things weren’t improving, and certainly won’t improve with a new competitor.”

That new competitor is a 41,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, a combination grocery store and pharmacy planned for 5625 Washington Ave. and set to break ground in the coming months.

Walmart’s impending arrival dealt Sentry a death blow, convincing co-owners Jim Albrecht and daughter Michelle Harrington to close for good, Schilz said.

Trustees for the Village of Mount Pleasant questioned the proposed market’s impact on neighboring businesses from the start.

“I think the Albrecht Sentry people have fought very hard and worked very hard to make that a viable and competitive location,” said village trustee and Planning Commission member John Hewitt. “Unfortunately our predictions are coming true.”

Despite trustees’ concerns, Hewitt said, “We were not able to blunt (Wal-Mart’s) development at all because that location was previously zoned,” making it legally impossible for trustees to prevent Wal-Mart setting up shop at the Washington Avenue address. Wal-Mart representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Mount Pleasant’s Sentry is the only one in the Racine area, Schilz said.

With its closure, consumers lose the area’s largest selection of gluten-free products and an extensive meat department. Additionally, Sentry offered unique services including a certified nutritionist at the pharmacy and a sushi chef who offers fresh selections daily.

Nutritional Designs & Pharmacy, the independently owned health and wellness store located inside Sentry, will remain open but might have to move, said Jody Muniz, who co-owns the shop with his wife, Sunday.

“We’re not closing, but we’ll have to reorganize with new ideas on where we’re going to land with our physical location,” Muniz said, adding that he hoped to stay near to the same location.

“If not here, it’s going to be very close,” he said.

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