Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Requiem for a Grocery Store

with 6 comments

Folks, the grocery store closest to my house — the Pick N Save on Rapids Drive in Racine, Wisconsin — will be closing on June 26, 2015.

This is bad news for anyone in Racine, but most particularly for those living near Horlick High School.

I’ve known the store would close since mid-April of this year. I kept meaning to write a blog to talk about what this store means to me…and time got away.

Granted, I’ve been busy writing and editing. (And gladly so.)

But I didn’t want yet another neighborhood grocery store to go belly up in Racine because of our horrible economy without trying to say something about why I liked the store — and why I want it to stay open.

First, the Rapids Plaza Pick N Save is a neighborhood store. 75% of their clientele is comprised of foot traffic.

(In case you’re wondering, this is the store — this particular store, the Rapids Plaza Pick N Save — I walked to when my car was out for 52 days last year.)

Second, the employees are friendly, knowledgeable, and remember you. They ask about your family as if they truly care. And if you need a coupon, they’ll find one for you…they don’t turn their noses up and refuse to work over there, unlike some stores I’ve been in up in Milwaukee (and elsewhere).

And third…well, I used to work at this store, years back. I cashiered, stocked shelves, was the assistant dairy and frozen foods person for a while…I worked in nearly every aspect of the store, from produce to deli to health and beauty. (Heck, even floral — and trust me, I wasn’t that great, but they were desperate.)

Fourth…well, there aren’t any grocery stores for at least three miles in any direction. So if you don’t have a car and the buses have stopped running for the day but you need milk or bread, you will be out of luck after June 26, 2015.

There is perhaps a hint of good news on the horizon, if you believe in the scuttlebutt I picked up earlier today. Apparently Wal-mart, which has wanted to expand for a while now (Caledonia vetoed a proposed site in late 2013, if memory serves), is looking into buying the entirety of Rapids Plaza.

If Wal-mart comes in, at least there would be a neighborhood store to walk to…and the employees will have a chance (a very strong chance) to be hired on.

As it stands, though, the Pick N Save on Rapids Dr. will be closing on June 26. No one can stop it. There’s no way to change it.

It’s completely nonsensical, and I really had wanted to mount some sort of grassroots campaign to get a Woodman’s into Racine as I felt they’d know exactly what to do with this store.

But if the Wal-mart does come in, and if they do a good job, perhaps all is not lost.

We who live close to Horlick High School can hope for that.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I feel for you. My hometown, where my parents and my grandmother still reside, has seen it’s neighborhood stores closing for the last 25 years. I came to a head during the flood of 2011 when the city was cut in half and there was only one little neighborhood grocery store left to serve the entire north side of town. All the other stores were located in the south side or were flooded. There isn’t even a Walmart or Target on the north side. And for several days there was only a single little 2-lane bridge open over the river (unless you wanted to make a hundred mile detour). Shortly after the flood work was started on a new larger chain grocery store (it’s very nice inside) up on North Hill. Losing neighborhood businesses sucks.


    June 8, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    • Yeah. It’s very frustrating.

      Did the store that eventually came to your hometown help alleviate the stresses caused by the previous store closures? Or was it so pricey, most of the folks couldn’t use it? (That’s another problem we’ve run into here, though if the Wal-mart folks buy the entirety of Rapids Plaza, they are unlikely to price themselves out of the market.)

      Barb Caffrey

      June 8, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      • It was built by the same chain that owns all but one other chain store and the one little neighborhood store in town. The prices are the same.

        B&D Market is about the size of good sized house, but they do still have a butcher shop in the back and they make the absolute best caramel rolls I’ve ever had. People start lining up outside half an hour before the store opens just to make sure they get some (he makes a limited number each day, and then that’s it).

        The new store was opened by Sunmart (now Family Fare) which has three of the other four stores in town.

        It’s a big difference from when I grew up in the ’80’s when there were 3 Piggly Wiggly’s, a Red Owl, a couple of Super Valu’s and at least 4 little neighborhood stores in town (which was about half the size it is now).


        June 8, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      • Yeah. I know what you mean. Racine used to have quite a few grocery stores, including specialty butcher shops, that have gone away in recent years. We do have a new Wal-mart Neighborhood Market and a Festival Foods, and since the suburb of Mount Pleasant has crept up right to Racine’s borders, there are also some stores out there that most people think of as still being in Racine, but technically aren’t. (Such as a GPS market; that might be Racine, might be Mount Pleasant.)

        In the inner city area of Racine, though, there just isn’t anything. We lost a Piggly Wiggly several years ago, and now we’re losing this Pick N Save.

        Most of the stores are in better neighborhoods, and aren’t within walking distance. This is a real hardship, as our bus service isn’t that great. Possibly the easiest stores to get to on the bus line are the new Wal-mart and the new Festival Foods (along with one Piggly Wiggly, the one on Washington Ave.), but in all cases you have to walk a pretty hefty distance to them — if you walk with a cane, like I do, or worse with a walker or are in a wheelchair, going a quarter to a half a mile before you even get in the store is a significant hardship.

        Barb Caffrey

        June 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm

  2. I had a family member move in with me, and even though I live in a big metropolis, where I live now is little a small town. This family member is in shock. It didn’t take a but a few trips to the grocery store and everyone knew him. People smile and say hi. They hold doors for each other. “Did you see that the yogurt that you like is on sale?”

    If you haven’t lived in a small town atmosphere, this might be a bit overwhelming. But considering we were both raised in the small town/country atmosphere we have no problem with it. When you grow up where everyone knows you, your siblings, your parents, your grandparents, and probably everyone in your family for the last 100 years, and and if you get it trouble for any reason… Well. you got in trouble twice, first whenever you got caught, and by the time you made it home, your parents were waiting for you. Anyway, I’m slightly off track.

    The truth is those neighborhood stores are part of the community. They are the ones that keep that family going. When my watch had a problem, I didn’t take to that fancy jewelry store, I took it to the local one. “Hey, David, can you fix this for me?” “Not right now. If you leave it, I’ll get it tomorrow morning.” Suddenly his clerk, aka his mom, produced paperwork with a tab for me to keep that contained a number. I giggled. As if David doesn’t know my phone number? “Gotta keep the insurance company happy.” I shook my head, filled out the form, and took my little number tab. When I walked through the door the next day, my watch was ready. I have no idea what I did with that number. That’s small town living. Could that big name jewelry store have done it faster? I doubt it. Would it have been cheaper? Who knows. I paid a fair price and now my watch is right.

    Supporting our hometown businesses is what keeps America running. From the guys who fix the AC, and the ones that take care of our cars, to the little corner grocer, these businesses matter! I always try to support the companies that are local.

    I’m sorry to hear that you are losing your local store. Wal*Mart is wonderful, but you’ll walk a mile in the store for the mustard and a bag of bird seed.

    E. Ayers

    June 10, 2015 at 3:09 am

    • I agree with you, E.

      That’s why I said if the Wal-mart comes in, it’s better than nothing. But it won’t be as good as the store we already have, where the people know the clientele and ask how you are (and how’s your family, etc.)

      Barb Caffrey

      June 10, 2015 at 3:55 am

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