A Champaign County village has lost its only grocery store.
The IGA store and dairy bar on West Main Street in St. Paris closed its doors for good Monday.
Many residents will now have to drive as far as Urbana, New Carlisle or Piqua, which have grocery stores roughly 20 minutes away from St. Paris, for items like meat and fresh produce.
“It’s sad to see it go,“ said Timothy Rowe, one of the store’s final customers. “The community’s always needed a supermarket in town. You have to travel either 14 miles in either direction to get groceries.“
“There’s a small market down in Christiansburg, but they close at 5:00, so if you don’t get off work until 5, it’s hard to get to the market down there,“ said Mayor Brenda Cook.
Village officials and the Champaign Economic Partnership are working with the property owner to bring in another grocer or other type of business to fill the space, said Mayor Cook.
“They’ve been posting it and interviewing different market owners and different potential leads,“ she said.
Mayor Cook, whose first job was at the dairy bar, said the village is also open to the idea of a new grocery store moving into a different building in town.
A spokesperson for IGA’s parent company Houchens Industries, Inc. sent 2 NEWS a statement, which reads in part: “We don’t take these decisions lightly, but the employee owners were unable to maintain profitable operations for this location…Other area Hometown IGA stores in New Carlisle and Enon will remain open.“
Customers who spoke with 2 NEWS said they hope the space doesn’t sit empty for long.
“If they’re not going to sell it to another company for a grocery store, I think it’d be a good place to start a new church,“ said Marlene McIntire. “There’s plenty of parking space here. Or a community center.“
According to a store employee who spoke with 2 NEWS off camera, workers at the St. Paris location were offered transfers to other IGA markets, but some have chosen to look for jobs elsewhere.