A neighbourhood grocery store is set to close on Menzies Street, and with it goes a chapter of Chilliwack retail that many remember fondly.
The Chilliwack IGA will be closing its doors for good on Feb. 15, according to owner Gord Schilling and the sign outside the store.
Schilling has owned the Chilliwack IGA franchise for the past five years, after selling his store in Murrayville and moving to Chilliwack. The Menzies IGA was independent, and not owned by Sobeys the way some are.
“It was lease issues. We were coming off a long-term lease,” Schilling said, explaining the reason for store closure. “We couldn’t come to an agreement.”
With ever-increasing costs of doing business, sometimes it’s impossible for smaller retaillers to make a living, he said.
But many regulars are quite unhappy about the imminent closure.
“I shopped there with my grandmother over 40 years ago,” wrote Dawn Stott on Facebook. “It’s terrible for the neighbourhood. The store is so convenient and keeps the area busy.”
There are dozens of posts like that one on the topic, some from folks who’ve shopped there all their lives.
“We are going to miss it greatly,” posted Kristine Lande in one thread. “Love the people, love the size, the location, the butcher, the bread. Grew up on Riverside Drive, and have been shopping there all my life.”
Customers rave about the meat department, and the bakery.
“Those were some of our strengths,” Schilling said.
Three of the veteran meat cutters at the store had 100 years of experience between them.
“It’s personalized service where everyone knows everyone. You just don’t get that anymore.”
All of that tends to fall by the wayside in a larger store, he noted.
As far as what will happen ultimately to the Menzies Street property, Schilling said “no one is talking” from the management company he has been dealing with, but there is lots of speculation by the public.
A dollar store and condos are two of the guesses.
Long-time customer Judith Davies remembers shopping across the street at the grocery store back when it was owned by Irvin Abrams, where the liquor store is now, and all its incarnations, before the IGA opened.
“It’s a wonderful store,” Davies said about the IGA. “It’s a smaller store where you can do your main shopping.”
There is nothing else like it on that side of town, and a dollar store, if that’s what is coming, won’t cut it.
“A lot of people are very unhappy,” she said. “We’ll have to go all the way downtown, which is a pain.”
Schilling said he totally understands the frustration.
“It’s a neighbourhood store and it’s convenient for pensioners and others who don’t want to go the extra 10 minutes to the other stores.
“They are going to miss it in that respect.”
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