Downtown losing grocer

DALLAS — Ora Shutt’s trip to Dallas Super Market on Friday may be one of the last chances the longtime Dallas resident will have to visit the store.    On a mission to buy supplies to begin coloring Easter eggs — she does it the old-fashioned way, with colors derived from onion skins and colorful spices — Shutt was surprised to hear the grocery store would be closing its doors Sunday.   Dallas Super Market Store Manager Randall Houser confirmed the impending closure last week, noting it was competition that is forcing Dallas Super Market out.    “Since Walmart expanded (into groceries), business has dropped way off,” he said.    Houser said in the last six months, business has declined noticeably and that closing the store has “been on the table for a little while.”    The decision will have an impact on customers like Shutt, who have been frequenting the store since well before it was known as Dallas Super Market.    “It’s just so handy,” said Shutt, who lives at Dallas Retirement Village. “It’s not jammed with people. It’s just easier and friendly and helpful.”   Shutt isn’t the only customer with that opinion of the market at the corner of Oak and Main streets.    Store employees said it has been tough to break the news to customers and will be tougher to have to say goodbye over the final days.    “They are more than just customers,” said checker Emily Jackson, who has worked at the store for more than two years. Photo by Jolene Guzman Customer Steven Kibbey talks with checker Emily Jackson as he pays for his items Friday morning. Kibbey said he will drive to Independence to shop after the store closes.   “You have everyday conversations with them. You know about their families and what is going on. It’s sad. It’s like a family here. When you’ve been here so long, you know everybody.”   Pam Brown, another checker and Houser’s second-in-command, said she, too, will miss those relationships.    “It’s been a real joy to work with everybody in this community,” she said.   Dallas Super Market opened in early 2011, taking the place of another store at the location, Dallas Market, which had closed the previous October.   The vacancy will leave a hole in the community. Many downtown workers buy their lunch at the deli counter, while neighborhood residents would often walk to the store.    The closure will likely be hardest on them, Brown added. Photo by Jolene Guzman Deli Manager Melonie Jauregui hands a customer a box of chicken Friday morning. Promoted to deli manager a year and half ago, she will miss her regular customers.    For others, it will mean more trips to Safeway or even farther afield.    Steven Kibbey of Dallas, another longtime customer, said once the store is closed he will have to go to Waremart in Independence.    “With a large family, it’s hard on a budget,” he said. “I’m sad to see it go.   “They make great deli food,” he added. “That’s going to be the saddest part.”   No one knows that better than deli manager Melonie Jauregui.    “It’s going to be tough,” she said of the store’s last days.    She has a lot of regulars at the deli counter that come in several times a week during the lunch hour.   “A few people have said, ‘Where am I going to go to lunch now?’” she said. “You get used to regulars.”   A few of the store’s 15 employees will be moved to another store in the chain in Willamina, while others have found or will have to find other jobs.    Houser said there has been talk of someone taking over the store, but he isn’t confident that will happen.   Meat Department Manager Rod Rickerd, who also blamed the store’s closure on Walmart’s expansion, said his loyal customers can still buy his products if they are willing to put in some drive time.    “I will offer the same cuts, same service, and same special orders in Willamina,” he said.    Customer Connie Long was simply sad to see another downtown business close. She had heard rumors about the store closing during her swims at Dallas Aquatic Center and decided to stock up on her favorite item: bacon.   “I like this little store. I love the bacon,” she said, smiling. “I thought they had done a nice job with the store.”   

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