For nearly 20 years, Kenny Tolbert enjoyed walking the three blocks from his house to the Food Lion supermarket off of St. Andrews Boulevard in West Ashley.

“I didn’t have to drive all the time. The people are nice, and it has good prices,” the former Gibbes Museum of Art security and maintenance worker said Tuesday as he shopped in the supermarket that opened in the mid-1990s.

But come mid-February, the 29,000-square-foot store will go dark, and Tolbert will have to find another grocer.

The Salisbury, N.C.-based food chain owned by Belgian company Delhaize Group will close the store at Sycamore Street and St. Andrews Boulevard in about three weeks.

The supermarket is one of eight “underperforming” stores Food Lion is shuttering, according to company spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown.

“It’s just like a bolt of lightning going through my heart,” Tolbert said. “I hate it.”

Other stores in Greer and Union are among the three in South Carolina going out of business. Others are in North Carolina and Virginia.

The clearance sale at the Charleston store starts today, with most items marked up to 25 percent off. Cigarettes and tobacco are marked down 15 percent. The store stopped accepting coupons Tuesday.

“I love this store,” Mary Quinn of nearby Byrnes Down said. “I feel like it’s part of the family. This is sad. It always fit my budget.”

Dorothy Scott lives on James Island, where a Food Lion is closer to her home, but she shopped at the West Ashley store for the past eight or nine years.

“I can always find what I want here,” Scott said. “You always find sales here. I can’t believe it’s closing, but I guess they have to do what they have to do.”

The nearest Food Lion in West Ashley is at 2144 Savannah Highway, the grocer’s website shows.

The company’s decision to close the stores comes a year after it shed 126 other unprofitable stores, including two in Mount Pleasant and one in Moncks Corner.

“While these decisions are difficult, especially given the impact on our associates, customers and communities, our actions will continue to enhance the performance of our overall store portfolio and further enable us to deliver profitable growth and accelerate shareholder value,” Phillips-Brown said.

She said the roughly 35 affected employees will receive severance and can apply for openings at other Food Lion stores.

The closings will leave the chain with 1,119 stores in 10 states, including 16 in the Charleston region.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or