At the end of this Rainbow, there are empty shelves and a lot of parking spaces.
The last Rainbow food store, a name that not long ago was one of the largest grocery chains in Minnesota, will close on Monday. The store, at 2501 White Bear Av. in Maplewood's Maple Ridge Center, opened in 1986.
Most of the store's shelves are empty now and only a handful of shoppers browsed the aisles Thursday afternoon.
"I'll miss the double-coupon days," Barb Anderson of North St. Paul, one of those shoppers, said. "Rainbow was one of the only stores in the Twin Cities that did that."
The Rainbow chain peaked with more than 40 stores in the state. The chain's owner, Milwaukee-based Roundy's exited the market in 2014, when there were 27 Rainbow locations left. It sold 18 of the 27 stores to a consortium led by Supervalu, including the one in Maplewood. Just a block away, Supervalu also operated a location of its main retail chain, Cub Foods, the largest grocery in the Twin Cities market.
On Thursday, spokesman Mike Wilken said in an e-mail, "There are times we need to make the decision to close a store, as is the case with our Rainbow location in Maplewood and the Cub store on Arcade Street in St. Paul."
The St. Paul Cub will close Sept. 26. Both properties are leased, although they were not expired.
After Supervalu took over the Maplewood location, it put up yellow "outlet" signs. Those signs have since been removed but no "closing" signs replaced them.
Elizabeth Delude of St. Paul started shopping there several years ago when it became an outlet. "I don't like shopping, and this store was never very crowded so I liked it," she said. "I'm sorry to see it go."
Once the second-largest supermarket chain in the Twin Cities after Cub Foods, Rainbow was founded in 1983 by Sid Applebaum and D.B. Reinhart. It was sold to Fleming Foods in 1994 and Roundy's in 2003.
Eden Prairie-based Supervalu this summer agreed to be purchased by United Natural Foods, a Rhode Island-based organic foods distributor, for $2.9 billion. Its new owner has pledged to exit the retail grocery business altogether, leaving the future of about 80 Cub locations up in the air.
Since 2016, Supervalu has completed remodels in more than 25 of its stores, including Wine & Spirits, mostly in the metro area. Cub is currently remodeling the Maplewood store less than a block from the Rainbow, as well as Chanhassen and St. Paul Midway locations. All three stores will get a popcorn shop and an expanded deli. Midway will also get a vitamin shop and more grab & go items that cater to soccer fans from the nearby stadium.
In the spring of 2019, Cub will open a new concept urban grocery store at 46th and Hiawatha.
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633