MINIER, Ill. — The sole grocery store in a Central Illinois Village is closing after nearly two decades.
Earlier in the week, employees of the IGA grocery store in Minier announced on Facebook the store was officially closing its doors. The next closest food store is about a 15-minute drive away to the IGA grocery store in Mackinaw.
Hasan Khan, the store’s owner, said his decision to close the store wasn’t an easy one, but the sales just weren’t there.
“For some reason that I do not understand, sales didn’t pick up yet. It’s still declining and declining and I took a loss last year, that’s fine,” Khan said. “I have been taking the loss each month.”
Khan said he took over the store almost two years ago after Brett Zehr, who owns the IGA in Mackinaw, sold it to him.
He said one of the most disappointing things about the store closure is the loss of jobs for its employees, but he couldn’t compete with big-box stores like Walmart where he noticed people were going to shop instead.
“I feel very bad. Quite frankly, I was very depressed about the fact that 14 people here will lose their job,” Khan said. ” I mean, of course, I will manage somehow, but I mean these people work from day to day.”
Khan also said he received some complaints about the store not always having inventory, which he said is “partially” not true.
“When I purchased, I purchased full inventory,” Khan said. “But I just couldn’t manage anymore. Sales just weren’t there.”
One of the store’s biggest supporters, Rusty Richards, is a minister at Minier Christian Church. He said once a year the church organizes an event at IGA where they sell up to 500 prepackages bags of can goods for their food pantry program.
Richards said community members tell him how much they’ll miss the store and he feels the same, but he believes IGA could’ve done more to engage the community, such as promoting itself.
“Just because there’s a need and just because there’s potential for it doesn’t mean it reached it’s potential,” Richards said. “If the right store and the right owner would come in and put time into promoting it to the local towns and providing services for them, I guarantee it would work here.”
One of the services the town would be losing is IGA’s delivery service for those, such as senior citizens, who have difficulty traveling for food. Khan said he’s working with the IGA in Mackinaw to continue that service in Minier.
Richards also said the church will do its part in making sure people don’t go hungry once the store is gone.
“I think community organizations like this church will step up to provide for those in need,” Richards said.
Khan said IGA would be closing at the end of the month. Currently, the store is offering a sale on all grocery and deli products.