After closing Monday night for inventory, Amherst IGA did not reopen.
The Milan Avenue grocery store officially locked its doors for good on Thursday.
The News-Times talked briefly to owner Kent Romesberg early in the week as closure rumors swirled.
He was not able to predict then whether the store would close, saying the decision would ultimately rest with the warehouse.
We saw shelves nearly empty with just a few goods — many near their sell-by date — kept toward the front. Only three employees could be seen in the store.
Customers have been speculating for months that the IGA would close, noticing goods were not restocked, offerings grew slimmer, the deli stopped keeping hot food on hand, and freezer banks went dark.
Distributors at the doors confirmed that it had closed midday Thursday as they reclaimed some of their equipment and relocked the doors.
A short time later, co-owner Rachael Romesberg posted online that it was a sad day for her family.
“I have heard so many stories of the memories people have of their grandparents bringing them shopping as a child or memories of working there as a teenager back in its day when it was thriving! I loved hearing the stories as I could picture them in my mind.
“Our family came into Amherst IGA with nothing other than a passion and hope to try and revive it. We knew it was not going to be easy but we were willing to take the risk. We saw the potential of what it could be. We worked hard and gave it our best believing that with enough support we could make it thrive again. We had a lot of plans and visions of how we could make it better. We listened to what the community wanted and dreamed of making that a reality someday… however things did not turn out the way we had hoped or planned. We would take one step forward and 10 steps back… between outdated equipment breaking down to outdated products being pulled off of the shelves due to lack of customer support. It eventually caught up and became too much. No matter what we did or tried it ultimately was not enough.”
Her post, signed “Kent, Rachel, Ava and Caius,” thanked employees and loyal shoppers.
The Romesbergs purchased the IGA business from Amherst police officer Bob Lane in late 2013 and subsequently sank a lot of effort into renovations, lowered prices, and expanded offerings.
Changes were popular with customers, who gave the store a 4.7/5 rating on its Facebook page.
The 2,966-square-foot store was built in 1978. While the Romesbergs owned the business, the property is owned by Westwood Mobile Home Park, according to county records.
The land and building have a combined market value of just less than $1 million.
Kent Romesberg did not return calls requesting comment on the closing.
The Independent Grocers Alliance was founded in 1926 and is headquartered in Chicago. IGA has 5,000 locations in 46 states and more than 30 countries, each store operating under the brand’s umbrella but with local franchisee ownership.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.