Carl’s IGA closes doors after nearly 50 years
By Tim Evans
After nearly 50 years of business, Carl’s IGA closed to the public Thursday, Jan. 17.
Nearly empty shelves, shut down refrigeration and freezer cases as well as a few associates of the store greeted final shoppers taking advantage of 50 percent reductions on the final week of clearance sales.
Rob and Becky Brockmeier, owners of the last independent grocery store in Carlinville located at 251 North Broad Street (Route 4), have been selling groceries since 1995, initially owned by Rob’s father, Robert Carl, who died in 2002.
Brockmeier said he was “very surprised” at how quickly the store emptied of merchandise, noting he closed a few days before his target date of Jan. 19. There’s no reason to keep it open any longer,” he said Thursday.
He did say there is a possibility the store could reopen as wholesale supplier Super Value is campaigning to find a buyer, but Brockmeier said if that doesn’t happen soon, he will eventually sell the property, including all the shelving and equipment inside.
The announcement to close came on Dec. 26, following the Christmas holiday – Brockmeier pointing out he didn’t want to spoil any employee’s holiday with the news although he sensed a number of the employees knew it was coming.
The business had a total of 24 employees — many long-time familiar faces at Carl’s IGA including Donny Bouillon, a grocery clerk and dairy department manager for 42 years.
A sister, Beth Brockmeier, has also been a cashier for decades and Kelly Clark has been the deli manager for 25 years along with Steve Crouch, the store’s meat manager for 21 years.
Brockmeier said he feels sorry for some of his older customers who were accustomed to Carl’s service, from delivering groceries to helping carry out orders to parked vehicles. He said it was “time” to close the doors as he retires from the business,.
He said a number of employees have cried as they’ve seen the store empty but said he’s been preparing for it for some time, so he doesn’t figure it will bother him closing the doors one last time.
“There’s still a lot of things to do,” said Brockmeier. “You don’t just turn off the lights and walk away.”.
Brockmeier said the business was at a point of putting a lot of money into it or closing it’s doors, noting putting a lot of money back into the operation would be “like throwing good money after bad.” He said that if a business can’t invest and reap benefits from that investment, it doesn’t help the business.
He said it’s a tough life in any small business and said many of his customers and fellow business peers understand. “They seem to know where I’m coming from,” he said.
Brockmeier said he agonized over the decision, but said it’s getting tougher and tougher to compete in today’s marketplace with a small store.
Spending the final day surrounded by family and employees of Carl’s IGA, Rob Brockmeier holds his three-year-old granddaughter, Lilly, as his wife Becky stands beside him, along with, from left, deli manager Kelly Clark, dairy manager Donny Bouillon, cashier Lori Johnson, meat manager Steve Crouch, and sister Beth Brockmeier, who served as a cashier. Enquirer-Democrat photo by Tim Evans.