Hawley IGA Market is STAYING OPEN.

“We brokered a deal to buy the property,” an excited Jim Shook, co-owner of Lake Region IGA told The News Eagle, Wednesday afternoon. “This is real good news.”

Hawley IGA Market is STAYING OPEN.
“We brokered a deal to buy the property,” an excited Jim Shook, co-owner of Lake Region IGA told The News Eagle, Wednesday afternoon. “This is real good news.”
Shook was grim-faced Feb. 9th when he made the news official to Hawley Borough Council, that he was closing the store by the end of the month. He cited financial difficulties making the store profitable and inability to reach a compromise with the landlord on renewing the lease at a discount. Nearly 22-23 employees were facing a lay-off, and Hawley was facing being without a downtown grocery when the doors closed Feb. 26.
Now all that has changed, and the news came as a surprise even to Shook.
The property was in the hands of a family trust based in Utah, inherited by the original owner who started the Acme Market on that site across from Bingham Park in 1955. Lake Region IGA opened a market in the building in Feb. 2006, on a five-year lease.
On Monday, Feb. 21, Shook was on the phone with the landlord and heard “second thoughts.” The landlord, he said, was interested in negotiating, and knew it wasn’t right to shut down Hawley’s only grocery store. Shook related that the landlord wasn’t able to reach a suitable agreement with the other prospective, retail tenant. It would cost too much to renovate the store for another use, which would not have been groceries.
The form of the deal the landlord might make with Lake Region IGA wasn’t clear until Wednesday.
Shook said it took him by surprise, when the landlord agreed to sell the property. In years past, the owner wasn’t interested in selling.
Although he wouldn’t disclose the selling price, Shook stated that it was a suitable amount to make it work for Lake Region IGA and allow for a viable restructuring plan to make the Hawley store successful.
In the last two weeks, they reduced their inventory appreciably and will have to build it back up. By agreeing to sell at the suitable price, Shook said that it makes sense now to be able to borrow enough money both to buy the property and bring back the inventory. He said they would not have been able to make it work at this late point if they simply renewed the lease having lost so much of their assets.
His game plan, Shook explained, is over the coming year to diversify by introducing lines of products other than groceries. The plan isn’t fully developed, but what he has in mind is to sell goods not readily available in the immediate Hawley area. This way, they hope to make the store financially viable and still maintain a grocery market in downtown Hawley.
This is good news for the employees, Shook affirmed, who were told on Wednesday. Only four  were expected to be transferred to the Lake Region store.
“We’re very happy,” beamed Sharyl Paul, Front End Manager. “We’re ecstatic. We thought Saturday the door was closing.”
She said the word is spreading fast, and “the phone hasn’t stopped ringing” with customers offering congratulations.
Stephens Pharmacy is also staying, Shook said.
Todd Stephens said they are very excited about the news.”We’re very pleased we’ll be able to remain in the current location and continue our commitment to the Hawley community,” he said.
“I think it’s nice for the senior citziens... You got to have something in town,” said Clyde “Tinker” Swingle, of Marble Hill. “A lot of people don’t drive. You see people going there on their motor scooters.”
Said Gene Krause, the Hawley Fire Chief: “That’s good news today! It’s great that Jim perservered in this matter and iit’s a win-win for the downtown Hawley people.”
“This is great news,” Mayor David Kevin Hawk shared. “It’s exciting. So many were dissapointed at the news of the store closing.”
Elaine Herzog, who heads the Downtown Hawley Partnership, was thrilled at the news and said it “made her day” to know the grocery was staying.
“It’s a win-win for both of us,” Shook said. The landlord, he said, is happy not to worry about having an empty building. The store stays open, and by being the owner, Shook said that they will be able to take care of maintaining the property, remodeling and even putting on an addition.
“And we’ll be a member of the community forever,” Shook declared. “We won’t have to worry about the lease.”
A letter of intent was being faxed Thursday, and Shook expected to having the sale finalized within three months.
“We’ll be open Sunday morning,” the long-time grocer said.