After having served the Parsons Community for nearly 11 1/2 years, Save-A-Lot, 300 Main, is going out of business.
Owner Ken Hutchins expressed his deep regret but explained Thursday he was left with no choice as the store was hit with one calamity and then a second, from which it could not recover.
“We had a lightning strike Aug. 10 that knocked out two compressors for the refrigeration. That’s why I have not had frozen food there for a while. We tried to put in new compressors and different stuff and then bought more frozen food.”
That incident resulted in Hutchins throwing out over $10,000 worth of thawed frozen food and he spent more than $15,000 on new compressors and parts.
“Then last Friday, we found out all of our freon in our refrigeration got leaked out through a hole up in the pipe. So that is another $10,000, plus all the product we had to throw away from that,” he said. “I’m done. We don’t sell enough groceries to try to overcome that kind of cost.”
With the lightning strike, his insurance covered some of the cost, but the second was not an act of God, so insurance paid nothing.
“It’s sad … Terrible,” Hutchins said of closing the doors to the business he opened in 2008 in a portion of the former Ron’s IGA space he remodeled.
“I would like to thank everybody who has been there and shopped and has worked for me,” Hutchins said. “I’ve had people that have worked for me since I opened June 25 of 2008. Several of them. I don’t know all of the employees that have worked for me, but I’d like to thank them and people who have been faithful customers, who liked the business, the product and the meat.”
He wants to sell what he has left. Plans are for him to close the doors on or before Thanksgiving.
Hutchins sold his Save-A-Lot building in Chanute to G&W Foods. He said his lease was up June 30 at his Save-A-Lot in Joplin, and he did not renew it, and G&W bought his equipment there.
“But they won’t come into town here and compete with King Cash Saver,” Hutchins said. “They sell the same groceries, so they won’t compete. There is nobody else who would be willing to buy me out here, so I’m just going to have to close.”
Now, he said, he is going to try to find somebody else to rent the space in the building there, or sell the whole building to someone.
“The reason we started that grocery store actually is I have seven children and three of them are handicapped. One of them lives with us still. I started it so my handicap son (Robert Hutchins) could work and have a job. He is 30 years old. My wife used to bring him 80 miles every Monday when we had a truck. She did that for eight years. He would work at a shelter workshop in Nevada, Missouri, the rest of the week.
“It was always, ‘Is it Monday yet? is it Monday yet?’ He just loved coming over here and associating with my sales clerks. He wound up actually serving a six-month mission in Salt Lake City, working at Welfare Square at a grocery store for homeless people, or people who needed groceries. We went out there and served with him for six months He was a pro because he worked for eight years here. It didn’t bother him working in the cold spaces, so he loved it.
“We aren’t always going to be alive, so I wanted him to do something and there’s a grocery store in every town, and he could know how to do that,” Hutchins said. “He’s torn apart we are closing or even thinking of closing. There’s just nothing I can do about it. It’s sad for everybody.”