Column: Geyer’s closure an opportunity for Galion


Geyer’s in Galion shut down this week.

After serving the community for more than 40 years, the owners of Galion’s only 24-hour grocery were unable to keep their doors open.

It’s a loss for the community.

It’s a larger loss for Galionites unable to make the drive to Ontario, Mansfield, Bucyrus or Marion to shop at larger, more competitive and more diverse supermarkets.

But it’s also an opportunity.

In recent years, this community has taken a lot of steps forward.

Area residents are re-investing in Galion. Outsiders have chosen to invest in Galion, especially in the Portland Way/Ohio 598 area.

This is another opportunity for someone, or some group, or some company to invest in this community.

There is definitely a need in Galion.

There also is a will to get a grocery or supermarket here.

And in this community, where there is will, there is usually a way.

Still, Geyer’s demise is sad. It’s another sign of changing times and changing habits.

I don’t blame the owners of Geyer’s. I don’t blame city officials.

Geyer’s owners hoped to stay open. They tried to find a buyer for their store.

No one should be surprised by the closure. If you didn’t see this coming, you’ve had blinders on.

There are a a lot of groceries and supermarkets to choose from these days. And the larger them come, the better their buying power, which means they can sell things at a better price than smaller grocers.

Competition is good for customers.

It’s not always good for small business owners.

Small grocers rely on customer service, local product (if available), familiarity, community pride and customer loyalty.

Geyer’s had all those thing. But sometimes, it’s not enough.

I’ve lived in Galion much of my life.

When I grew up, my family shopped almost daily at Summit Street Carryout. By bike, it was about a 120-second trip. We bought soup, milk, cheese and a lot of luncheon meet there. I don’t see a lot of 10- or 12-year-old shopping by themselves anymore. My brothers and I did that daily.

I vividly remember riding my bike to Summit Street Carryout to pick up bologna, cheese and white bread.

We also had huge garden at home and Vosser’s Farm Market across the street from our house, so fresh vegetables during the summer and fall were never more than a few steps away.

Galionites could also get milk at other treats at Andrew’s Dairy and Wayne’s Doughnuts was a fun place to visit on Galion’s west side.

There were two Lawson’s stores in Galion, and too many little carryouts to count. They all basically sold the same thing: lots of candy, luncheon meet, cheese, beer, cereals, toilet paper, etc.

Small carryouts started to peter out in the 1980s.

I believe there is still one open on Harding Way East. That may be it.

Geyer’s opened in the 1970s.

It was newer, cleaner and more modern than Neff’s Market or Charlies.

As Geyer’s business increased, Neff Brothers and Charlies suffered.

Galion’s population also started to shrink at that time.

Within a decade or two, Neff’s, Charlie’s, both Lawson’s stores and most of the carryouts had shut down.

Times have changed.

Most Galionites don’t remember, but there used to be a Kroger in Galion, and a JC Penney, and a Sears along with the Big N, Neisner’s and Murphy’s on Portland Way North, an area booming once again.

Times will continue to change.

It’s no one’s fault.

And it’s everyone’s fault.

Americans like convenience, and lower prices.

One-stop supermarkets — where you can purchase anything from car tires to swimming pools to groceries to bicycles — are convenient and often less expensive.

As more Walmart, Kroger and Meijer stores moved into the area, along with Sam’s Club, GFS, Aldi’s, TSC, Big Lots and others, Geyer’s lost business.

Until it no longer made sense to stay open.

Is there a winning business model for small, local groceries?

I don’t know, but it’s hard to find those types of success stories.

Drug Mart, Save-A-Lot and Dollar General are handy, and I assume will see more business.

But many in Galion stopped shopping for groceries here years ago.

So what now?

There are people in Galion and Crawford County already working on bringing another grocery to the community. There is talk of something happening in the Sleep Inn area within a few years.

Galion has had a lot of success stories in recent years. New, local businesses are doing well in the uptown area and elsewhere in the community.

But Geyer’s closing is a loss. It’s a bit of a black-eye for Galion in the eyes of other communities.

But it’s also an opportunity.

An opportunity to invest in a friendly, thriving community.

Hopefully, the powers-to-be in Galion and Crawford County will be able to capitalize on that opportunity and bring another grocery to town.

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Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer

 

 

Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at rkent@aimmediamidwest.com.