The third time wasn’t the charm for a grocery store at a northeast Colorado Springs shopping center.

Colorado Ranch Market, which anchored Carefree Center southeast of Academy Boulevard and North Carefree Circle, will close at the end of August, according to a Facebook post by the store’s owner. The closing will come just 8½ months after Colorado Ranch Market’s grand opening Dec. 14.

It’s the third time since 2012 that a grocery has closed at Carefree Center.

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Colorado Ranch Market had followed discount grocer Save-A-Lot, which shut down last year at the shopping center. Save-A-Lot had opened in 2016, four years after Safeway closed its longtime store at Carefree Center.

Officials with Leevers Supermarkets, an independent, employee-owned Franktown company that operated both Colorado Ranch Market and Save-A-Lot at Carefree Center, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Leevers is a licensee for the Save-A-Lot chain that’s owned by a Canadian private equity firm. After closing the Carefree Center Save-A-Lot, Leevers put Colorado Ranch Market, a new grocery concept the company was rolling out, in its place.

A Leevers official said last year that the no-frills Save-A-Lot approach wasn’t working at the shopping center; Save-A-Lot sold almost exclusively house brand and private label items.

Instead, Colorado Ranch Market carried a broader selection of brand name items similar to what shoppers would find at Safeway, King Soopers and other competitors.

It’s unknown why Leevers is closing Colorado Ranch Market.

Grocery stores were among businesses designated as essential by the state and were allowed to remain open after Colorado’s stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders took effect in March and April in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Still, several retailers and restaurants have closed over the past several weeks as businesses wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the local economy.

On its Facebook page, dozens of Colorado Ranch Market shoppers bemoaned the store’s closing — applauding its produce, meat, seafood and other items.

“This is terrible news,” one Facebook commenter said. “Became one of my favorite places to go. ... Deals were good, and one of the few places I trusted buying meat from. So sad to see it go.”

Another commenter said she had bragged about the store’s quality.

“I’ve brought friends, family members and don’t want to buy my produce anywhere else!” she said. “I’m really going to miss a good clean friendly store!”

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Even so, Colorado Ranch Market was a smaller, 20,000-square-foot store that squared off against King Soopers and Walmart, both of which had larger groceries a short drive north near Academy and Austin Bluffs Parkway.

Colorado Ranch Market shoppers were being referred to the Save-A-Lot at 405 S. Circle Drive, which Leevers continues to operate. Leevers also has 13 other Save-A-Lots along the Front Range and a Colorado Ranch Market in Aurora, according to its website.

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