ALLEGANY — Rumors and speculation regarding the closure of Allegany’s Service Store Park & Shop proved true when the First Street grocery store closed it’s door for good Saturday.
On Monday, a customer approaching the business asked if it had really closed its doors. When she saw the bright green hand-written sign indicating that Saturday had been its last day of operation, the would-be customer turned and walked away while commenting, “That’s too bad.”
In March, the Times Herald published stories that it had received information that the family-owned store, which is the only grocery store in the village, would close and was expected to be re-opened as a Dollar General store. Dollar General officials in Goodlettsville, Tenn., had also confirmed at the time that they planned to open one of the businesses on the site in November.
While the company could not be reached Monday for confirmation on its current plans, Jim Mahar, manager of the Park & Shop store in Allegany said he believed Dollar General was still planning to open on the site.
A spokesman for Dollar General had stated the store would undergo renovations before it opens under the new ownership. In addition, the new store is expected to hire between eight and 10 people and will carry a variety of brand-name items.
Mr. Mahar said he couldn’t comment on the closure, but did note that he was saddened by the turn of events. As he spoke, employees were seen emptying shelves of non-perishable foods, and dismantling fixtures. Mr. Mahar said he believed the full-time employees would be given the option to relocate to other stores in the business owned by the Mahar family. The store had employed 20 employees.
The family-owned business has been in operation in the area since 1923. In addition to the Allegany store, the company has a store at Front and Main streets and West State and 13th streets in Olean, and South Main Street in Portville.
When visited at his store on Front and Main streets, Francis Mahar declined comment, but indicated the other stores in the business would remain in operation.
Allegany residents who commented on the closure included Anne Conroy-Baiter, who also serves as executive director of the Cattaraugus County Arts Council.
“Our hearts are broken,” Mrs. Conroy-Baiter said of the closure. “We’re lucky because we have transportation and can access Tops (market) and Canticle Farms, but we find it distressing for people in Allegany who no longer (can walk to a store) for fresh food and produce.”
Dave Schuman, a law enforcement official whose family has lived in Allegany for many years, said he also was disappointed with the closure of the store.
“It was a big asset in the community; if I needed to run downtown for some groceries, it beat fighting the traffic in Olean,” Mr. Schuman said. “And I like supporting a hometown company. My grandfather worked for Mahar Service Stores; he was a meat cutter for years.
“And look at all the kids they employed in the community, my brother was one of them as a stock boy,” Mr. Schuman added. “It’s a loss for the community.”
(Contact Kate Day Sager at firstname.lastname@example.org)