At least three times a week, Vicky Wolfe heads to the grocery store to buy food for her household of six people in South Baltimore. Without her fiancé's job as a truck driver, she said, she’d probably experience homelessness.

Wolfe is on disability and receives food stamps. She makes the drive to Price Rite in the Mount Clare Junction shopping center, often bringing a neighbor as well, to save money on groceries. But, by the end of the year, Wolfe’s resource for saving money on food won’t be an option.

The Price Rite on West Pratt Street will close in December, said Karen O’Shea with the grocery store chain’s corporate communications. It was a “difficult decision” to close after 10 years, but information is being shared with team members about job opportunities in other Price Rite stores in the region, O’Shea said in a statement.

O’Shea told the Baltimore Business Journal in a separate statement that “in spite of our efforts to build sales to a sustainable level, we have not been able to make the store financially viable.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Residents and shoppers are wondering where people in the neighborhood will have to go to get groceries after the store closes.

Wolfe said she had no idea the store was closing, but she hates to see it go. Other closer grocery store options, such as Giant Food and Harris Teeter, aren’t always affordable, Wolfe said. She has to “spend more and get less” when she visits those stores.

“That’s [the closure is] just sad. That’s going to hurt a lot of people,” Wolfe said, her arms filled with a pack of cheese, ice tea, milk and oatmeal pies from her recent Price Rite purchase.

Wolfe said the economy is “rough” right now and she’s opted for off-brand items to be able to make meals for her family. A recent Baltimore Banner report about grocery store prices amid historic inflation said the food index rose 13% in the Baltimore area, the biggest jump since 1999.

Patrick Lee — a retired chef from Washington, D.C. — said the Mount Clare area will likely become even more of a food desert. Lee said he’s always shopping for a bargain because stores will “price you out.” He visits the Price Rite when he’s in the area — he lives in Waverly — to save money. Lee said he once lived in what he thought was a food desert near East Preston and North Broadway streets and doesn’t mind making the trip to the county to go grocery shopping, but he said that’s not the case for everyone.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“If you don’t have a car in Baltimore, it’s gonna be hard to get groceries,” he said.

Kintira Barbour, president of the Mount Clare Community Council, said the community is trying to navigate the “extremely detrimental” loss of the Price Rite and the news has sparked several community organizations to come together and discuss what to do.

“It’s a hard hit for our community, especially since we’re already in a food desert,” Barbour said.

Baltimore’s 9th District, which includes Mount Clare, has the highest proportion of residents living in a food desert or a “Healthy Food Priority Area,” 56%, compared to 23.5% citywide, according to a 2018 report from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future. Over 30% of households also do not have a car. The same report revealed nearly 1 in 4 Baltimore residents live in areas with limited access to healthy and affordable food.

The Price Rite is one of the biggest retailers in the shopping center and sits between an Octapharma Plasma center and a Downtown Locker Room apparel store. The next closest grocery store is in the Westside Shopping Center, which is a little over a mile away.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The Mount Clare Junction shopping center was sold to Carlyle Development Group based in New York in 2020 for $20 million, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. Abdi Mahamedi, president of Carlyle, told the Baltimore Business Journal recently that he hopes to keep a grocery store in the space because “he understands its importance in the community.”