Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 4, 2013

IGA in Grayson done doing business

Tim Preston
The Independent

GRAYSON — The Justice family has been selling groceries in Grayson for decades, although the family plans to lock the doors of their latest store as soon as the shelves are cleared.

“We re-did this whole thing from the plumbing to putting in a new scanner system,” said Lanette Justice, whose husband Johnny built the family’s previous store with his father in 1979, and whose family connection to IGA in Grayson goes back to 1953.

Justice explained the family resumed operations at the grocery, which had been Sloane’s Signature Market for a while, in mid-August and has since been forced to wrestle with the decision to again shut the doors.

“Well, I have to be careful,” she said, explaining the factors which contributed to the decision to shut down after only a few months in business. Considerations from supply lines to the cost of keeping the freezers plugged in all played a role in the process, she said, although supply issues were likely the final deciding factor.

“If you are advertising something on sale, you’ve got to make sure those items are in here,” she said, adding “I know our customers noticed that.”

Justice, whose specialty was likely her culinary work in the deli although she and everyone else in the family were always responsible for different aspects of the job, said she and her husband love the business and will miss the people who came in and traded with them.

“We love the grocery business. It is so fun to see our old customers come back in with their kids or their children’s children. That’s the hardest part for me and the decision to close it down again,” she said, quickly adding she has tremendous concern for their employees, including members of their immediate family.

“The real toughest part is for our top-notch employees, who are not so much employees as they are family anyway. Many of them started out with us. Making a decision like this ... you want to know they will be taken care of too,” she said, noting several have already been approached about jobs with other companies. “Like I said, we’ve got some good, top-notch employees.”

Based on her own observations of the grocery business, Justice said she is convinced many people have returned to bargain shopping, often carrying several store sales papers with them as they travel between stores.

“Back when I was a kid that’s the way it was then. You didn’t see that when we in business in the 80s — you had faithful, die-hard customers then,” she said. “Times were harder when I was growing up and I see it going back to that now.”

Justice said she can’t say with certainty when the last day of business at Justice IGA will be.

“Right now we’re just in the process of liquidation and shutting down the coolers and freezers as we can. We honestly don’t have a date, but with inventory going so fast ... we had a couple of orders for more than $500 yesterday - it might not be long.”

Justice said she and other family members have not yet decided what they will do after the last day at the store.

“Anything we go into, we go into with prayer and just let the Lord lead us,” she said.

“There is no plan. Of course, we don’t want to let it set here long. We want to get something in here that would be good for the community,” she said, citing a buffet-style restaurant or “box store” as good candidates. Anyone interested in the 20,000-square foot building is asked to call Justice or her husband at (606) 316-2041 or 316-5086.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.