Monday, April 14, 2014

4.14.14 Bee-otch of the Day: society

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Name: society
Age: ageless
Occupation: the way we live
Last Seen: everywhere
Bee-otched For: closing yet another family-owned business in Grand Rapids
In the past few years, the Grand Rapids area has lost several long-running mom-n-pop grocers.

Alger Heights Foods closed a few years ago, but thankfully reopened as Ken's Fruit Market and is doing well. D'Amico's on Plainfield closed after over 100 years in business not long ago. So did Parkside Marketplace.

Now, there's a new name to add to the list: Gordy's Supermarket.

After nearly 70 years in business, the once-popular neighborhood grocer near 44th on Division will have its last sale on May 3rd. Chris Ramirez, who had only owned the store for two years blames a poor economy and the fact that a new Walmart is opening up down the street as the factors for Gordy's closure.

Gordy's began as Fred's in the mid-1940's. In 1972, Gordy Weemhoff bought the store and made it famous for its behind-the-counter full-service meat department and deli which whipped up fried foods and freshly-made sandwiches. Weemhoff retired two years ago and sold the store to Ramirez, a young-but-loyal employee of his.

When Ramirez bought the store, he dumped Spartan as its supplier citing higher costs that the chain hands down to their smaller stores to IGA, a chain friendlier to smaller stores. Ramirez also did some slight remodeling to the store, including removing carts from the middle of the aisles that were filled with nearly-expired items for quick sales.

Many complained that the store wasn't the same without Gordy while others lauded Ramirez for keeping the store alive. However, with massive competition plus the fact that the neighborhood that the store is in has suffered with the loss of the GM stamping plant and Steelcase outsourcing jobs, it sadly didn't make a whole lot of sense to keep Gordy's going.

Ironically, all the closed stores I just mentioned were all Spartan Stores. Like Gordy's, Parkside flipped to IGA before they closed.

The Grand Rapids area only has a few other independently-owned stores, such as Steve DeYoung's Big Top Market, the Duthler's chain of stores and Ralph's. Both Big Top and Duthler's are Spartan Stores while Ralph's is supplied by Nash Finch, which merged with Spartan last year.

Yes, there's also Wealthy Market on Wealthy Street, but I'm not sure if a store that - at last check - buys all their meat and produce at Aldi and marks it up by a buck or two is considered a "full-service" grocer. :/

It's very sad to see Gordy's go. I loved their meat department and would often go there after work on a Friday to grab some of their meat to cook the night after. And yes, it was delicious. However, Gordy's was too "out of the way" for me, or else I'd go more often. I love steak, but hate buying it from a big box store where it's usually supplied from a megafarm where cows are beaten to the point where the meat is barely edible. It's a shame that people would rather go shop at a giant big box over supporting their local stores where everybody knows your name and thanks to their suppliers have some of the same buying power as their big box rivals. But, that's the tragedy of having a 10,000-square foot store built in the 1940's over a newly-built 150,000-square-footer down the street. You can't compete and the customers head into these stores like cattle.

So long, Gordy's. Hardly knew ya. :(

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