Q: Is it true that Homer Country Market is closing its doors?
A: Yep, which leaves the tiny Champaign County village with one fewer option for groceries and convenience items.
"If you want to stay in Homer, there is a Casey’s General Store on northern Main Street," said Village Clerk Sharon Jeffers.
According to Country Market owner Jack Patel, business was fine for the first few years after he bought it in 2014. But two years ago, sales began to slide.
“It’s a case of bigger marts killing small businesses,” Patel said. “In the market’s last moments, people are buying only one or two items at a time.”
All items are 60% off until the store closes July 20, up from 40% off last week.
“I feel for the people here; it’s been a struggle,” said lifelong resident Barbara Phillips. “The closing is especially tough on the older crowd in town.”
For most of her life, Homer always had two or three stores families could go to for groceries, like the IGA that burned down 30 years ago. Having another Homer mainstay shut down will be “really weird,” Phillips said.
The Country Market isn’t the only store leaving Homer. Once its supply runs out, Main Street Belly Deli will be closing its doors for good as well.
Once Patel closes up Country Market, he plans to move to Muskegon, Mich., where he will run a gas station. He has only gratitude for what Homer has given him.
“I try to support local people as best I can. I tried and tried and tried; it just didn’t work,” he said.