ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A busy Northeast Heights grocery store was forced to close after what health inspectors found inside. The city of Albuquerque’s environmental health department received complaints of mice being found at the Smith’s on Juan Tabo and Eubank.

“We actually responded to a complaint that we received that was indicating that there was some rodent issues there. So we sent the inspector out to look into that specifically, in this case, the complaint was substantiated,” said Dr. Mark DiMenna, deputy director of the city’s Environmental Health Department.

Story continues below:

According to the report, mice droppings were found under the coolers, in the deli, in the meat market, and under the shelves where shoppers would find tortillas, cereal, and more.

“When you start talking about any kind of pest issues, like it’s very easy for that, to go from one area throughout the entire facility,” said Dr. DiMenna.

The city also found other violations, such as dirty floors, holes in the ceiling, and holes and gaps in the walls that invited rodents and bugs in. This prompted the city to close the store on May 26.

Thursday, the Smith’s re-opened after about a week of cleaning under the supervision of health officials. The health department said a number of things could have led up to the rodent problem, including staffing issues- an all too familiar problem many businesses have been facing nationwide.

“I think people should have a good understanding that a lot has changed since the pandemic when a lot of places didn’t have the regular kind of customer throughput. And now they’ve had staffing shortages. So these problems, you know, they can kind of exist everywhere.”

News 13 did reach out to Smith’s to get a comment but it was later in the day, outside of office hours.