Airport Heights Carrs to close, dealing a blow to the Northway Mall

The Carrs grocery store on Penland Parkway in Airport Heights. (Photo by Kavitha George/AKPM)

The Carrs grocery store at the Northway Mall in Airport Heights is going to be closing its doors on Sept. 19. This is the second anchor tenant to leave the 40-year-old mall recently, after Joann Fabric and Craft left for a new location in Midtown.

Mao Tosi, manager of the Northway Mall for nearly a decade, said the closure of the Airport Heights Carrs has been coming for some time. 

“We’ve been aware that they were in this place … it’s been a waiting game. I just was hoping that the change wouldn’t happen here, as they’re one of the main pieces in northeast Anchorage,” he said.

Carrs spokesperson Tairsa Worman said the grocery store chain worked for years to improve sales at the store, before finally deciding to close up shop. “All employees will be offered positions at nearby stores, in accordance with language in their collective bargaining agreement,” she wrote in an email on Monday.

The Starbucks and Denali Credit Union inside the Carrs will also close, and employees at both kiosks will be offered positions at nearby locations, a spokesperson said.

Northway Mall was built in 1979, originally the largest mall in Anchorage and a popular retail destination. Since then, it’s slowly declined in popularity as other, newer shopping centers popped up around the city. Now, Tosi said the recent economic downturn has caused uncertainty for tenants, who don’t know how much longer they have to hold on.

“We’ve had businesses come and go but you know, we’re really in the middle of probably one of the toughest situations. The pandemic and the recession has been heavy.”

House Representative Geran Tarr represents Airport Heights, Russian Jack and Mountain View, the communities surrounding the Northway Mall Carrs. She said as far as grocery store options go, there’s still the Red Apple in Mountain View and the Carrs on Boniface and Debarr. But especially for people without vehicles, she said losing the Northway Mall Carrs will be a noticeable loss.

“A lot of people don’t have transportation, and there’s a lot of high density housing right in the area adjacent to Northway Mall,” she said. “I think that’s something that a lot of Anchorage residents don’t think a lot about because a lot of people have cars. But imagine trying to get your groceries, be on foot and have young children with you. It’s a lot of management just to get something as basic as your food needs met for your family.”

Tarr hopes that the Carrs might be soon replaced with another grocery. She and Tosi both pointed out that the new Midtown Mall Carrs that opened up last year replaced the old Carrs from the other side of that mall that closed four years earlier. Maybe the same thing could happen for Northway, they said.