RIPLEY Beginning next week, some Ripley residents may have to travel to purchase groceries, gas and other items after it was announced the town's Country Fair convenience store will be shutting its doors.
According to Town of Ripley Supervisor Pete Ryan, the official closing date of the store is expected to be Sunday, June 13. He said the closing would have a major impact on the community, especially to senior citizens and others who may not have ready access to transportation.
"It's a very important business," Ryan said. "From an employment standpoint, it has a significant impact. There are a lot of folks who rely on the Country Fair for essential groceries."
Photo by S. Alexander Gerould
Country Fair in Ripley will close Sunday for good. It is the only gas station in town.
Ryan said he has been in touch with Country Fair officials, who, he said, had indicated the Ripley store wasn't earning enough profit. Ryan added the store's lease is up for renewal, and the company has chosen not to renew it.
"We've been part of the community there for 25 years, said Paul Rankin, vice president of Country Fair. "Our lease is expiring. As times change, we're obviously working with different formats in the future and it doesn't fit into our plans."
While Rankin didn't know how many employees were currently working at the store, he said all of them had been offered positions with other Country Fairs, adding some have accepted the move while others have not.
Many Ripley residents were upset to learn of the store's closing.
"It's the only store we have in town. We need it," said Joan Hart, while sitting in Meeder's Restaurant with her husband, David. "I was shocked. I can't believe they are closing."
Another resident, Mark Henry, said the closing would have a negative effect on the community.
"It's going to hurt," he said.
However, Ryan said several other community businesses have indicated a desire to help fill the void caused by Country Fair shutting down. Patty Knight, one of the owners of the Ripley Country Market, said her business would stock bread, milk, eggs, coffee, soda, newspapers and other items.
"We will be doing the best we can to fill the void," Ms. Knight said.
For now, Ryan said town officials will work to find a new occupant for the building.
"Our mission is going to be to find a new tenant and fill the need there," he said. "We'll just have to work hard going forward to fill the void and meet the community's needs."