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Rush & crush at Stop & Shop

MANCHESTER — Working her way through a throng of people in the paper goods aisle, attempting to balance 12 rolls of paper towels on a cardboard tray, shopper Jean Mancuso looked ready to handle whatever might be waiting at the other end of a call for a clean-up in aisle 12.

"No mess, just stocking up," said Mancuso. "Looks like everyone's getting Brawny for Christmas this year."

Mancuso was just one of hundreds of shoppers who flocked to the six Stop & Shop supermarkets in New Hampshire, after the company announced that most in-stock items would be available Friday for 50 percent off.

Stop & Shop Supermarket on Tuesday announced plans to close all six of its Granite State grocery stores and three gas stations on or before Sept. 21, with layoffs expected for 670 employees.

The announcement came a week after Shaw's Supermarkets announced it was closing six of its 34 grocery stores in New Hampshire.

The company announced in a full-page ad in Friday's edition of the New Hampshire Union Leader that customers should hurry in to the stores to stock up on thousands of items at up to 50 percent off regular retail prices. The sale was offered at Stop & Shop locations in Milford, Hudson, Exeter, Bedford, and both Manchester locations.

Outside the Stop & Shop at 77 South Willow St., customers were forced to loop through the lot several times waiting for a parking space to free up as hundreds of shoppers descended, looking for deals. A few days earlier, the parking lot was sprinkled with just a few vehicles.

Friday, inside the automatic doors, Luisa Regavos of Manchester stood guard over 16 bags of groceries spread out on the floor around her, waiting for her husband to pull up at the door in their van.

"There's no way I'm carrying all this in the rain," said Regavos. She said she heard about the sale from her sister, who called to tell her she had to get to the store to stock up.

"I thought it would be crowded, but this is crazy," said Regavos.

Inside the store, customers were lined up 14 to 16 people deep at checkout registers, several with two shopping carts overflowing with items. Another 13 were waiting for access to the self-checkout machines.

Zach Cerullo of Goffstown had cart full of his favorite beverages.

"The beer shelves are emptying out," said Cerullo. "It's like the rush you get for a blizzard. I'm getting ready for Labor Day."

David and Leanne Savio were pushing around a shopping cart with a child's ride-in car attached to the front. Inside there was no kid, just piles of cereal boxes, toilet paper and tissue boxes.

"This gives us that much more space to fill," said Savio.

The scene was much the same at the Stop and Shop at 365 Lincoln St. in Manchester.

Shelves normally filled with cold cuts and meat products were empty by 1 p.m. Friday. Office products were also gone, as students loaded up with back to school supplies.

As a shopping frenzy swirled around her, customer Emma Morgan of Londonderry had a more somber reaction.

"There are a lot of great deals today, but everyone working here is losing their job," said Morgan. "I wish they would make enough today to stay open."


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