In early December, the Exeter community was rocked by the news they learned on Facebook: Greg’s Market planned to close its doors by the end of February.
Their online statement included an explanation for their closing after 20 years of service to the community: “The current climate of small business, e-commerce, super-fast shipping, etc. have made it very difficult to compete on price and selection in the grocery category … profit margins continue to be thinned by the constant battle for the ‘best’ price and rapidly increasing credit card processing fees.”
It didn’t take long for the community to respond. Just before the end of the year, a group of concerned citizens held an evening discussion and out of that was born the plan for community members to pool their resources and purchase the store from Greg and Jackie Yound.
The group, calling itself the Exeter Investors Corporation, met in mid-February to purchase shares (minimum was $1,000) and elect a board of directors. Approximately 50 investors purchased 200 shares of stock in the corporation.
The meeting also informed shareholders how the corporation would work, and detailed legal paperwork was passed out and signed. The purchase agreement with the Younds and the Exeter Investors Corporation was signed on Monday, March 1. Greg’s Market will officially close on March 30, and the store will be closed on March 31 for inventory.
The investors plan to tackle a few minor repairs on the fire marshal’s recommendation list on March 31 with the rest completed within 90 days of the store reopening. The store will reopen under the new ownership on April 1.
Greg Yound will be available to the board in an advisory capacity for the time being, but current employee Becky Bigelow will be the store manager with local resident Mitch Schlegelmilch serving as the president of the board of directors. Also elected to serve on the board by the shareholders are Justin Harre who will serve as vice president of the board of directors with Amy Emshoff as treasurer and Sharon Dyer as secretary. Kenny Harre was also elected to the board of directors.
The other employees were all given the option to keep their jobs and Schlegelmilch added, “We really hope they stay.”
Under Schlegelmilch’s leadership the board hopes to keep things about the same. Right now, the only schedule change will be closing at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights.
“Otherwise, we are going to try to keep it business as usual,” according to Schlegelmilch.
The store has been the only grocery store in Exeter since the storm in July of 1993 that took out Heffelfinger’s grocery store. Norm and Carol Yound first purchased the grocery store in Exeter in 1970 and opened their bakery in 1982.
The store began as Norm’s IGA and then changed to Norm’s Shur Save before their son, Greg, and his wife Jackie, purchased the store from them in April of 1999. Greg’s Affiliated Foods has continued with groceries, meat department, deli, catering, baked goods and over the years has added a liquor department along with serving noon meals. It became Greg’s Market several years ago.
Watching the communities around Exeter lose their grocery stores motivated residents to take action before they lost their store.
“Once again the Exeter community has stepped up and has made this community one of the greatest ones to live in,” Schlegelmilch said.
He sees a lot of potential in the store and asks “that you give us a chance. Take advantage of the customer service, the one on one personable experience at Greg’s.
“We are looking for opportunities to improve our business function, our service, our operation. Personally and speaking for the board we want to figure out ways to keep what we have going but at the same time look for opportunities to improve the business.”
Greg added, "Jackie and I would like to thank the many customers that supported us and my parents over the last 50 years. Many generations of local families were and are a huge part of our successes. We ask that everyone support all our home-town businesses and make Exeter a place that people want to shop, work, and live. Thanks again, and we'll see you around."