STAR LAKE, N.Y. (WWNY) - Star Lake’s only grocery store will close. Seniors and others don’t know where to turn. And money – is owed.
Soon, they won't be pulling fresh-baked rolls out of the oven at the Star Lake Great American. Or cashing people out. This month, Star Lake's only grocery store will close.
“I've always come here, always been here. It's got everything we needed, actually. So we're going to miss it. Especially us older people,” said Mary Dooley, Great American customer.
As long as anyone can remember, an IGA grocery was at this location. Three years ago, it closed. But within months, Great American purchased and re-opened the store.
“We were so happy it came back. Now it's going again,” said Dooley.
The nearest grocery is Chuck's – 20 miles away in Harrisville. Big chains like Price Chopper are even further. It's a long haul, particularly for seniors.
“I had a lady stop in yesterday morning before I even knew what had happened. … She said 'I don't mind driving around town, but I really don't want to drive out of town,'” said Connie Snider, Town of Fine supervisor.
Some seniors lack cars altogether. St. Lawrence County Public Transit is going to meet with seniors to see if the bus service can help.
It's not only the community of Star Lake that has a stake in this grocery store. Regional economic development groups also have a big stake – and it's a financial one.
The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency put together a loan package to open the store in 2016 and again two years later.
“We wanted to work to insure that there was access in the community to the basic sales and products and services that a grocery store offers,” said St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency CEO Patrick Kelly.
Great American Food Stores owes $345,000 on those loans. Owner Randall Lockwood says he wants to pay it back. He’s working on options – ranging from selling the store to reorganizing. But nothing has panned out yet.
Lockwood is also closing the Great American store in Watertown.