Jerry's IGA in Urbana will close

 

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URBANA – Urbana will lose another big retailer later this month.

The Jerry's IGA store at 2010 S. Philo Road is set to close in two to three weeks due to declining sales, said Jerry Reynolds, president of Kirby Foods, the Champaign company that owns that store and 19 other groceries in Illinois and Indiana.

The two Jerry's IGA stores in Champaign – at Round Barn and on Kirby Avenue – are doing well and will remain open, Reynolds said.

The southeast Urbana store, however, has been hurt by new competitors in the larger Schnucks and County Market grocery stores that opened in Urbana in the 1990s, he said.

Another big competitor has been the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Savoy. Customers in south Urbana have found it all too easy to get to the Savoy Wal-Mart and back by way of Windsor Road, Reynolds said.

And more competition appears to be on the way: In December, Wal-Mart declared intentions to build another one of its supercenters with a grocery in east Urbana.

The southeast Urbana Jerry's IGA store has about 50 employees, all of whom were told about the company's decision this morning. Most will be offered transfers to other Kirby Foods stores, Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he and fellow Kirby Foods owners are unhappy about having to close the store, which first opened in September 1983 with a nearby Jewel grocery as its main competitor.

"We were doing tremendous business then," he said.

Reynolds also said the 43,000-square-foot Urbana store, a former Kroger location, was considered large at the time it opened. But it has since been dwarfed by such giant stores as the Wal-Mart Supercenter and Champaign Meijer store, both of which are around five times that size including their general merchandise areas.

Reynolds said he doesn't know what will become of the Philo Road property, for which his company has reached the end of its lease, but with Kmart's vacant store down the road he doesn't see a lot of hope for another retailer moving in.

"With all the other empty buildings on Philo Road, I don't see much use for it," he added.

In recent years, Urbana has lost its Big K store and Jewel grocery in the southeast part of town and its Bergner's department store at Lincoln Square Mall.

With those closings, the sales tax dollars those stores provided for the city of Urbana have dried up as well.

City Comptroller Ron Eldridge said he couldn't disclose how much sales tax revenue the Jerry's IGA store generated for Urbana, but he called the store one of the city's top 10 sales tax producers.

"It's going to hurt," he added.

Reynolds said Kirby Food owners have decided to focus their attention on building up their other locations. The Round Barn store, for example, has been redesigned and now has much larger natural and international foods sections.

The Urbana store closing will leave Kirby Foods with 14 IGA stores and five Save-A-Lot stores in central Illinois and western Indiana. Some of the Illinois stores are in Hoopeston, LeRoy, Tuscola, Arthur, Arcola, Sullivan, Rantoul and Danville.

You can reach Debra Pressey at (217) 351-5229 or via e-mail at dpressey@news-gazette.com.

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