LIMA ‚?? The wine selection has been sold off, the famed Mexicali dip is done. After 16 years in Lima, The Andersons has officially left town.
The popular food and hardware chain technically closed to customers on Sunday, but liquidators contracted by the business and a few soon-to-be ex-staff members plan to man the Elm Street shop at least through the end of this week while they sell off the shelving and sundry fixtures that remain, according to Kim Sawmiller, who worked for the store since its opening in 1993.
Company officials announced in September that The Andersons store would close its doors by mid-November, blaming a tough economy and the recent closing of the rest of the adjacent American Mall. During the past two months, the store‚??s inventory has been sold off at reductions of up to 90 percent.
Many of the store‚??s 25 full-time and 100 part-time workers were given severance pay, Sawmiller said. Some took other jobs with the company. Company spokeswoman Debra Crow said Wednesday she did not know the exact number of employees retained
Kim Reynolds sat in her car Wednesday morning waiting for the Andersons to open its doors. She had been a regular customer of the store since moving to Bath Township in 2003. She planned to look over the fixtures with the hopes of finding a deal on some shelves. She would have rather been shopping for bread or deli goods.
‚??I just hate it that this is all that‚??s left now. I loved their bakery sections, I loved their deli area. I just don‚??t know where I‚??m going to shop now. I‚??m afraid I‚??m going to have to go to Dayton or something,‚?Ě Reynolds said.
Other businesses in the region are hoping Reynolds and others like her won‚??t feel the need to take their money out of town. Rays Markets is one store that has made a targeted effort to lure former Andersons shoppers to its stores. Just days after hearing The Andersons would leave town, Rays began surveying customers about what items they wanted. The answers have resulted in more than 200 additions to the aisles, including an expanded beer and wine selection and popular deli items including Mexicali dip, fresh salsa and dill dip, according to Marketing Director Annette Hoeffel. They now have item request forms at all stores. Rays employees are also providing ideas, based on what they are hearing from customers.
‚??There‚??s definitely interaction between the associates and employees asking for new items and items that are comparable to what they were getting. That‚??s been a great opportunity,‚?Ě Hieffel said.
The Andersons was the last store remaining in the once-popular mall. Mall owners Cafaro Inc. announced plans almost two years ago to renovate the mall into a ‚??lifestyle‚?Ě retail center similar to Easton Towne Center in Columbus. The recession and declines in the retail market have slowed those plans, but on Wednesday Cafaro spokesman Joe Bell said there has been progress, though the final product may not be what was originally announced.
‚??Progress has been under way toward developing the American Mall site. Some of our executives have been in discussions with other groups interested in redeveloping the site for other uses,‚?Ě Bell said.
That redevelopment could include an open-air mall or it might be a mix of retail, office space and even residences, Bell said.
‚??It could end up developed into an office use or mixed use. It really hasn‚??t been developed fully at this point,‚?Ě Bell said.
The company has no timeline in place for when the changes will come or when the current building will be demolished, though it‚??s likely at least a portion of the existing mall will be torn down, Bell said.