The Compare Foods situation is a very interesting one. Being that Compare Foods is a New York City-originating group, I can speak a little bit to this very odd situation. Here's a brief history of Compare Foods: in the late 1980s or so, the owner of an Associated Supermarket in Queens, NY sought to create a new format of Hispanic-targeted supermarkets so he created Compare Foods within the NYC cooperative Associated Food Holdings (Compare being a word in both English and Spanish). He eventually sold the brand name to Associated, which through some reorganizations and mergers and whatnot became a private equity-owned group called Associated Supermarket Group (ASG) based on Long Island. ASG is currently a cooperative of a few hundred independent supermarkets ranging in size from small bodegas to full supermarkets. The original founding family of Compare Foods (the Penas, whose company is called Aurora Grocery Group) wanted to leave that new group but the new owners wouldn't sell them the name back, so the core group of Compare Foods stores in the northeast were switched to Gala Foods and Gala Fresh Farms with Key Food Stores Co-Operative. At some point along the way, Aurora established a presence in the mid-Atlantic, mostly the Carolinas. Other operators joined Compare in the Carolinas and Virginia etc. Aurora's Carolinas stores are still called Compare and they're still with ASG.
ASG in the New York metropolitan area and New England is supplied by C&S and uses their own Avenue A storebrand, alongside the Best Yet and Full Circle brands. In the mid-Atlantic area, I'm not sure who supplies the Compare stores (never been to one) but they use Hy-Top from the Federated Group. While I don't know who owns/owned the Maryland stores, they were supplied by UNFI and sold Essential Everyday. Almost certainly, the stores were sold by UNFI to a Compare Foods operator with a clause in the sale that the stores would continue to be supplied by UNFI, for one reason or another.
I initially assumed that the Maryland stores, like the bulk of the Carolinas stores, were owned by Aurora Grocery. It does not appear that they were. I can't find a record of an owner of those stores. Execution at the Carolinas stores seems to vary immensely among locations and owners, with some appearing to be dirty old former chain stores, and others are quite nice. It seems these neighborhoods were not demographically in line with Compare Foods' typical spots, with larger Black populations and smaller Latino populations.
What I believe happened was this: the Compare Foods operators in MD merchandised the store wrong, priced most items too high, and struggled in the larger-than-usual locations. They may even have been backed into a restrictive distribution contract with UNFI. They lose money and go into debt. UNFI proposes a deal wherein the operators sell the stores back to them to pay off the owners' debt to UNFI so that the owners don't go bankrupt and UNFI gets the stores back. It's a combination of poor management and a bad situation. Plus, it was a new market for the Compare name to break into. That's just my speculation, but I think it's pretty likely.
A side note: ASG has been in trouble for several years, and shrinking in its core NYC market with what used to be some major market leaders (Associated, Met Foods, Pioneer). The private equity takeover was followed by an odd situation in which the cooperative was sold to its corporate management, and the former president and vice-president are now co-owners and co-CEOs of the cooperative. Down in Florida, NYC group Krasdale Foods has established a large presence in the Hispanic market with Bravo, but as of late, New Jersey-based Key Food has been pretty much steamrolling them at their own game with better-run, nicer stores and better prices. Key Food, by the way, is UNFI-supplied. Now, some Key Food executives have spoken rather boldly about closing the gap between Florida and New Jersey. To me, the obvious way to do that is with the Florida playbook: convert a bunch of Compare Foods in the mid-Atlantic to Key Food brands, impress people with lowering prices and big renovations, and take over the Hispanic market in the mid-Atlantic area, too. For an example, check out this Bravo - https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x ... p6BQjCARAD
, converted to Key Food - https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x ... p6BQjCARAD
, in Hollywood, FL. That's an easy way to get into the Carolinas, and beat another NYC competitor they know well, without exactly opening any new stores.