Fisher grocery store up for sale after 90 years of family ownership

Fisher grocery store up for sale after 90 years of family ownership

By ROSS BROWN

FISHER — The village's downtown grocery store isn't going anywhere, but one big change is on the way.

After almost 90 years as a family-owned business at the corner of Third and Front streets in Fisher, Ingold's Grocery has been put up for sale. With it will go three generations of continuous ownership under the Ingold family.

"The grocery business is seven days a week, nights and holidays," owner Steve Ingold said, "so we're getting a little older and getting a little burnt out. We'd like to turn it over to someone younger who has a bit more energy that can make a decent living, work hard and be their own boss."

Opened in 1926 by brothers-in-law Harve Ingold and Jesse Heiser, the store was known as Heiser and Ingold until 1983, when Steve Ingold and his wife, Belinda, bought Heiser's share. Harve Ingold's son, Dale, and wife Roberta operated the business for decades. Since 2001, it has also been owned by Steve's sister, Diana Wilkinson, and husband David.

When the business began, almost every small community in the area had a small grocery store. Today, Ingold's withstands competition from neighboring communities and the big-box stores in Champaign.

Steve Ingold said the community's desire for a local grocer is a focal point.

"I think the town's our biggest supporter," he said. "People want to go to the store in town here."

Perhaps the best-known aspect of the business is its meat department, which is located in the back of the store, where David Wilkinson cuts meat fresh each day. The meat is used by restaurants and businesses from around the area.

"Meat's our biggest draw," Ingold said. "A lot of people come from Gibson City, Rantoul, Mahomet, Bellflower, Saybrook and even Champaign. Dave cuts it nice and fresh. The golf course in Gibson gets their meat from us."

Two years ago, the business faced new competition from within the community as Dollar General opened a location just west of the high school on U.S. 136. Despite that, Ingold said the business has kept going.

"When they built the Dollar General here, it hurt us a little bit," he said. "Our sales are still OK. If someone wants it, they can earn a living and work hard. Our business is still real strong."

He said the decision to sell was made two months ago, after much consideration. The store lost money when Joliet-based Central Grocers Cooperative, its main supplier, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Customers won't notice any physical signs that the business is for sale since it is being negotiated anonymously through a long-distance broker.

"When the broker lists it, he doesn't put the name of the town on it or anything," Ingold said.

Fisher Mayor Mike Bayler said the store has been "a huge cornerstone for this town for a long time."

"I know it's tougher for stores in small towns to exist," Bayler said. "I really hope (the sale) happens."

Should the business sell, Ingold, 62, said he wants to enjoy his time without the stress of running the store.

"I'm not sure what I'll do," he said. "I might find something to do for a little bit that's not as stressful, work less hours and spend time with my kids and grandkids."

Ross Brown writes for the Rantoul Press, a News-Gazette Media community newspaper. For more, visit rantoulpress.com.

Sections (3):News, Local, Business
Topics (2):Food, People

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
aantulov wrote on February 16, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Perhaps if there is no singular buyer the townfolk should look into creating a for profit coop like in Urbana. 

-