HUNTINGTON, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – Going, going, gone. Huntington’s lone grocery on the community’s southside will shut down soon.
Customers and the mayor are in a foul mood over a decision by Kroger to close a long-standing food store in a part of town that may already be underserved.
Huntington, with a population just over 17,000 people, has four main grocery stores– but not for long.
64 store workers at an Owen’s Store on Wednesday received notification that the business on South Jefferson Street will close within 30 days.
A statement from Kroger reads, in part, “…it’s not a reflection on them (store associates) or their work”… but on the store’s “ongoing poor financial performance.”
Company officials say, “Kroger has long monitored operations, hoping the store could return to reliable profitability; however, the latest evaluations suggest such improvement is no longer realistic.”
Store customer Steve Loy, whose relatives worked in the business dating back decades when it was an IGA grocery, says new check out lines and other improvements have recently been made, right before the closing announcement.
“I just think there’s more to it than not making profit,” Loy said.
“They don’t know the outrage that they’ve struck a chord with, with some Huntington people,” said Mayor Brooks Fetters.
He argues that a number of family owned small businesses surrounding the Owen’s will be hurt by the closing.
Ten years ago, Marsh closed a supermarket just south of downtown.
Once the Owen’s on South Jefferson is emptied out, shoppers will be forced to the northside to Wal-Mart, Aldi, or a second Owen’s store in that part of town.
The mayor thinks townspeople upset about the closing won’t soon forget and will speak with their pocketbooks.
“My guess is it will split at least three ways and probably not very equitably to Owen’s north,” Fetters said.
Kroger says most store workers will be offered the opportunity to transfer to other Kroger family stores in the area.