HOLLIDAYSBURG - Mary Ann Eicher will miss the local BiLo grocery store when it closes its doors for good at 3 p.m. Friday.
"I went there almost every day. If we needed something, it was right at our hands. I think it's a shame. We've got used to it all of these years," said the Mulberry Street resident whose son Wade worked at the store as a stocker/bagger for about 10 years. "We always bought our pork there, and the nearest BiLo is in Tyrone. We will go there for our pork."
Eicher isn't the only one in the neighborhood who will miss the grocery store.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich)
A customer leaves BiLo Foods with a bag of groceries Wednesday in Hollidaysburg. The store will close at 3 p.m. Friday.
"I am disappointed very much, but I understand. It's where I do all my shopping. I live alone and don't buy much. Eating out and not being a cook, I relied on their deli. A lot of people will miss it," said David Whitesel of Ella Street.
Aleka Ruggiero and Janice Albright will miss the convenience of the 806 Church St. store.
"If I am cooking and there is a spice I need, I can just go over. It won't be as convenient when I need something [to go elsewhere]," said Ruggiero, who lives on Church Street.
"There are a lot of local people who are upset about it. I do the bulk of my shopping at Wal-Mart, but if I run out of something, [BiLo] won't be there," said Albright, who lives on Jones Street.
Penn Traffic Co. announced earlier this month that it would close the 14,100-square-foot store built by A&P in the late 1960s. The building had been leased by Penn Traffic - first as a Riverside and then BiLo since 1983.
Losing its lone remaining grocery store is a big loss for the borough.
"It is devastating to the borough, especially for the senior citizens who shop there who don't have private transportation and can walk to the store," Mayor Joe Dodson said. "Anytime you lose a business of that magnitude and people lose their employment, it is devastating."
Penn Traffic said the store employed 24 workers.
"We are very unhappy about this," said John Little, borough manager. "We are hoping the next owner will bring in a grocery store because we don't really have one in the borough."
Little said he talked to top officials at Penn Traffic about retaining the store, but his efforts yielded no success.
"They were not interested in talking about it," Little said. "I think that this decision was made quite a few months ago."
The fate of the building hasn't been determined.
"We have a sale pending and is to close by May 10 to a local investment group whose plans are unknown at this point," said Randy Lafferty, a Realtor with Howard Hanna Johnston Realty.
"We are hopeful we can get another grocery store in there. That is the best case scenario," Little said.
The next closest grocery store for borough residents is Martin's on Glimcher Drive, Duncansville.