Ignacio Shur Valu closing

New partners planning to renovate,

re-open longtime grocery store

The owners of Ignacio Shur Valu announced the store closure this week, and two local families are working to renovate and re-open the store. Enlargephoto

Photo by Carole McWilliams

The owners of Ignacio Shur Valu announced the store closure this week, and two local families are working to renovate and re-open the store.

The "going out of business" signs went up at the Ignacio Shur Valu on Sunday.

The grocery store is a longtime core business in downtown Ignacio and provides a significant share of town sales tax revenue. It's also a lifeline to town residents who don't have easy transportation to buy groceries elsewhere.

The store was selling most products for 20 percent off this week. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were large bare sections at the meat counter and fresh produce.

Manager Zach Higman told the Times, "What we've been told from our corporate office is they were having trouble running a business from 300 miles away." The store is operated by Fenn Foods based in Roswell, N.M.

Higman has worked at the store for about a year. He said the store's last day will be "whenever we sell our last product."

The store closing drew a fair amount of discussion at the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday morning.

Town Manager Lee San Miguel said he wants to work with Southern Ute Community Action Program, which operates the Roadrunner Transit Service, about providing some sort of grocery shopping runs for senior citizens.

Brook Lee said in a telephone interview Wednesday that she and husband Ezra are partnering with the McClanahan family, which still owns the building, to re-open the grocery store. Jean and the late Butch McClanahan operated the store for many years. Daughter Cindy Swanemyr also worked in the store, continuing after the business was shifted to non-local entities.

Brook Lee said the plan is to demolish the current building and re-build very aggressively with a goal to be open by the end of this year. The Lees own Crossfire, an oil and gas service company in Ignacio, but this will be an entirely separate business venture, she said.

Lee did not have a time estimate for when demolition will happen.

"We understand the vital need of a grocery store in the town of Ignacio and will work diligently to open the store as soon as possible," Lee said. "We are members of the community. We shop there ourselves."

Higman said reaction has been mixed to the closing signs. Some customers are excited that the store might be remodeled, but there's also a lot of anger about the closing.

"It's going to be hard without having a store in town for awhile," he said. "As a citizen of the town, I hope it's just temporary."

He estimated that around 32 employees will be affected. They are good, loyal workers, he said.

"We are all really good friends here, so it's been hard." Higman said. "Other than that. we're going day to day. We'll be here until our last product sells."

As of Tuesday afternoon, San Miguel said he still needed to meet with Town Finance Director Lisa Rea to nail down budget impacts of the store closing. Some capital improvement projects will be postponed. The impact on town sales tax will continue through the first quarter of 2015, he said.

Town trustees have discussed whether to seek voter approval for a sales tax increase this November to help pay for infrastructure maintenance and improvements.