Town laments over closed grocery store

WILLSBORO - The town's largest grocery store has closed despite feverish efforts to keep it open for a dwindling number of customers.

Store owner Mark McKenna and his wife, Wanda, cited lack of community support as the main reason for closing down the Willsboro Country IGA. Ultimately, he said, they could not compete with larger supermarkets in Plattsburgh.

"We did have a lot of regular shoppers that we'd really like to thank for their support," said Mark, "but all in all, people went to Plattsburgh."

The McKennas, who also own the Country Store on Route 22, began leasing the grocery store in 2005 after the Tops market there had closed down. Now, they say, they just can't make it work anymore.

"There's been a big grocery store in this community for 50 years, so it's a big change for people," said Wanda. "It's just hard to imagine how such a big store like that impacts so many people."

The store is the latest institutional casualty in downtown Willsboro, which over the past 12 years has lost a school, bank, and a handful of other businesses.

"It's a shame to lose another business because that's not good for the marketplace," said Willsboro Supervisor Lori Lincoln-Spooner. "I do want to thank Mark and Wanda McKenna for their effort to keep it going. We just don't have the numbers here to support it."

In June, the McKennas switched distributors, swapping the IGA label for a line of Shur-Fine products that offered more competitive prices.

"It did make a difference for a little while, but it just wasn't enough," said Mark.

The McKennas will now seek to consolidate some of their services. Plans for expansion at the Country Store include adding a full line of produce and a better selection of meats and other grocery items.

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