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Bear Creek Albertson's closes

Lina Bickel of Central Point loads — groceries into her car at the Bear Creek Plaza Albertson's store. The — grocer will close the Medford store Jan. 25 but open one nearer — Central Point residents Jan. 26.

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Employees offered jobs at other stores

Albertson's Inc. will close its Bear Creek Plaza store in Medford on Jan. 25 and plans to open a new Central Point store the next day.

The closing of the Biddle Road store, which opened in 1978, was announced to roughly 60 employees Wednesday. Manager Mike Griffin, who will take over the Central Point store, said employees have been offered jobs at other Albertson's stores.

The majority (of employees) will be coming here, and all will be able to stay with Albertson's, Griffin said Thursday at the Central Point store, which is off Freeman Road near Interstate 5.

Though no announcement to customers was posted at the Bear Creek Plaza store, there were signs that preparations for its closure were under way Thursday evening. The amount of merchandise on shelves was clearly thinning. In the office supply aisle, employees -- some of whom were brought in from other Albertson's stores -- were packing goods. In the wine aisle, distribution company employees were dusting and boxing bottles.

A corporate spokeswoman reached Thursday was unable to discuss the reasons behind the store's closure.

The company has been considering the move for several months. When Albertson's opened its Jacksonville Highway store in October, company officials said they were considering closing the Bear Creek Plaza store. At that time, they said Albertson's was focused on building newer, larger stores closer to growing areas of the Rogue Valley.

The new stores are larger. Griffin estimated that the Bear Creek Plaza store was about 38,000 square feet, while the new Central Point store is about 68,000. The Central Point store also will feature a variety of new services, including a garden supply center and a Starbucks coffee bar.

Albertson's has built three new stores in the Medford area in the past year.

It was unclear what effect the closure of the Bear Creek Plaza store would have on that shopping center. Neither the center's local manager nor a spokeswoman for its owner, Washington-based Pan Pacific Retail Properties, returned phone calls seeking comment.

Bear Creek Albertson's closes