SABINA — This town’s only full-service grocery store will close, but the landlord is trying to find a new grocer tenant for the 30,000 square-foot building.
Uhl’s IGA, located on East Washington Street (State Route 3/U.S. Route 22), offered fresh meat, a bakery and fully stocked deli, a hot bar and groceries.
Sabina Mayor Dean Hawk said, “It was a shock for the village. I don’t know what we’re going to do without it.”
He added that many people shop there, and moreover a lot of people cannot travel out of town to shop.
“It’s a real blow to the village,” said Hawk.
Assistant Store Manager Sheila Hines, asked about customers’ response to the news, said, “They’re just sad. The people in town need a little grocery store.”
Customer Jacqueline Cobb said she has been going to the store ever since she was 3 and she’s 62 now.
“It breaks my heart,” said Cobb. She said she will especially miss the Meat Department and the store employees.
She thinks she may end up doing her grocery shopping in Greenfield.
After the word got out about the grocery’s pending shutdown, representatives of several area businesses came to the store to let it be known they are accepting applications, according to Hines. Those include New Sabina Industries, Pennant Molding, dollar-type stores, and a Save-a-Lot in the region.
She noted a lot of Uhl’s IGA employees walked to work. Hines hopes a grocer will locate in the facility, and that some of the store’s workforce can come back.
Robb Uhl and his wife own the real estate — that is, the building and the land. But the grocery business itself is owned and operated by Houchens Industries Inc., headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Houchens Industries operates more than 400 retail grocery, convenience, and neighborhood market stores across 16 states, according to the company’s website.
A News Journal phone message seeking comment was left this week at corporate offices in Bowling Green but was not immediately returned.
Houchens Industries bought the grocery business in 2010, said Uhl.
“I’m personally trying to find another grocery store operator,” Uhl said Tuesday, adding he’s been calling friends and acquaintances in the grocery industry to see whether they have an interest.
Uhl said Sabina resident Bill Lewis is voluntarily assisting him in terms of seeing whether a tax incentive can be offered as an inducement to attract a new grocery store operator.
Lewis has been in touch with the Clinton County Port Authority and the county commissioners in that regard.
If the full-service grocery store is not replaced, it will leave a hole in the Sabina community, Lewis said.
Mayor Hawk said the pending closure is probably the worst town-related news since becoming mayor.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.