IGA – I Gotta Ask…

The history of grocery stores in our quiet little town has been one full of fits and starts ever since the mondo-mega-super-store concept took hold in that market 20 years ago. We used to have a Star Market, which sold out to Bells, which went bankrupt because too many people shopped at Wegmans and Tops. And for years we had this big empty grocery store wanna-be building sitting vacant in the middle of the village.

Then along came IGA who reopened the store some 5 or 6 years ago. The village people were grateful and promised to do business there just so we could keep a store in town. Once you’ve been spoiled by living under 2 miles from a grocery store, you just don’t want to give that up. And all was grand, until a few months ago.

IGA began a “remodeling” project. Suddenly things were moved into new places, shelves were reorganized, and customers were assured that this was all to bring us something new and better. Okay, we’ll be patient. Besides, it was kind of a community bonding thing. Suddenly all us shoppers who would previously wander the isles in silence, pretending the other shoppers were invisible as if this were a 15,000 sq. ft. elevator, were chatting amongst ourselves.

“Hey, did you see the Jelly?”

“I think it was on isle 2 between the lightbulbs and the pasta.”

But this was over 2 months ago, and shelf reorganization has given way to shelf vacancy and 30% off inventory reduction sales. They are still restocking products as there is fresh produce, meat, and bread. But the choices are more limited than the typical convenience store. Worse for me is that they have stopped stocking bagels and toaster waffles altogether. This is all that fuels my kids in the morning. So as much as I want to try and keep this store in business, I’m forced into Wegmans once a week to restock kid-carbs so they can have breakfast.

I’ve asked several employees what the deal is. Are they actually remodeling or are they just trying to set the Guinness Record for going out of business the slowest? But no one is talking. The company line is that the company has told them nothing – which seems unlikely. But why the secrecy? If they tanked, they tanked. We may turn on the adulterous villagers who were rendezvousing with Wegmans, but we wouldn’t turn on IGA. At this point, there has been no visible sign of progress on “remodeling” in a couple of weeks. The store looks increasingly empty. There’s more than enough vacant space to reorganize any way they like. Even if this did start out as a remodeling project, it would seem it’s ending as a going-out-of-business sale.

It’s sad really. We’ve lost the hardware store, the grocery store, the paint & wallpaper store, even the fire hall burned down. Pretty much any place that sells stuff, is gone. Sure, there are some specialty craft places. But the town mostly consists of 2 coffee shops, a handful of bars, a video store, an insurance agent, and 167 pizza places. Hmmmm…

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