Closing of Chippewa Falls Mega Foods
Last week's announcement about the closing of the Mega Foods grocery store in Chippewa Falls was disappointing. I felt bad for the employees, many of which will retain employment with Consumers Cooperative Association, the parent company of the Mega operations. I also had compassion for those of us shoppers who like small-town charm while living in and around a larger metropolitan area.
From a business standpoint, I understand the reasoning for the store closure. The traffic pattern was not conducive for getting in and out of the store quickly, there weren't a lot of new homes being built and no businesses in the area were poised for expansion. Even though the store was apparently losing a considerable amount of money on a consistent basis, I didn't think that the store would ever close. And if it did, I didn't think it would close its doors within three days of the announcement.
After talking with a number of friends who work for Consumers Cooperative Association, I gained a better understanding of the situation at the Chippewa Falls store. Mega Foods CEO and President Mike Buck explained that a delayed closing process would only make it more difficult to insure that Mega employees would have jobs as the new Mega East store gets ready to open to the public.
Everyone I spoke with who is on the Consumers Co-op payroll told me that they also understood why the store in Chippewa Falls had to close. Many of them said they often heard rumors about the store possibly closing and it negatively impacted them while at work.
When I visited the store last Friday, I got a bit teary-eyed as I watched customers give cards and flowers to a few of the long-time check-out clerks. Not many companies are so fortunate to have workers who care enough about their jobs that customers feel the need to give parting gifts to the employees who work the cash register and bag their groceries.
As Consumers Co-op prepares to open its new version of its Mega East store next month, I look forward to starting a new shopping tradition. I was fortunate to get a sneak preview this week of the new South Hastings Way store. There is no doubt in my mind that the refurbished Mega East will be welcomed by the shopping public. The store will be more modern with better lighting and a better flow - without losing any of its small-town charm.
But it won't be the same as the Chippewa Falls Mega. I guess that's the hard part about our competitive world that I don't think I'll ever get used to.