KEESEVILLE - Yet another local grocery store has gone out of business.
Bourgeois' IGA in Keeseville closed its doors last week. Bruce Bourgeois and his family have operated the store for over two and a half years.
"I think it's just the economy," said Bourgeois. "We look back on our sales a little over a year ago, and we were doing very well."
The store's sales have steadily declined over the past year, however, and so has the amount of merchandise on its shelves.
"In the grocery business it's all about turnaround," Bourgeois explained. "When you have less sales, you have less money to buy new items."
The result, he said, was a downward spiral that made it more and difficult for the store to recover. Just before closing, the store was selling upwards of $30,000 less per month than the year before.
Bourgeois sub-leased the store, which actually belongs to an out-of-state owner. He said the lease was very high.
At its peak, the store employed 55 people both full- and part-time. Just before closing, about 15 people were employed there.
"We were very good at customer service," Bourgeois said. "People usually talked about how it was a friendly store."
Still, Bourgeois stressed that it hasn't been lack of community support that's forced him to close down the store.
"The community has supported us immensely," he said. "People have just been fantastic."
"It has nothing to do with customer loyalty and everything to do with the economy," said Bourgeois, convinced that many of his customers turned to larger, more distant stores to save on their grocery bill. "I can't blame the people for doing that."
Bourgeois said it was not all that surprising to people when they heard of the store closing, but many of its former customers were still saddened by the news.