FISHER, Ill. (WCIA) – Small town grocery stores are closing left and right.
The most recent is Ingold’s in Fisher.
Before that, Farmer City’s grocery store closed last fall.
Oakwood’s IGA shut its doors back in 2016.
Now, more and more people are having to drive outside of town to do their shopping.
A food economist told us this is a sign of rural towns shrinking, while cities and metros expand.
People in Fisher say they don’t want to leave town like businesses have, so when stores like Ingold’s close, it hits them pretty hard.
Since 1926, Lorrie Cwiklowski says Ingold’s has been the place where people walk and shop.
“I was afraid to go in the last week, because I thought I was going to cry like a baby,” said Cwiklowski.
Last week, it shut down.
The owners told us they couldn’t find anyone to take it over.
The same thing happened to Oakwood’s IGA not even two years ago, and food economist Craig Gunderson says it happening everywhere.
“It’s across Illinois, and for that matter across rural areas in our country…is populations have been declining,” said Gunderson. “I mean, supermarkets are leaving these areas, but so too are jobs, so too are many other opportunities.”
People in town say the convenience of Ingold’s couldn’t be beat, when they could just walk up to the grocery store and get all the fresh food they need. But now, people are having to drive at least several miles outside of town…just to get something like fresh fruit.
“There are some people who really are constrained in terms of their ability to get places,” said Gunderson.
For example, Gunderson says senior citizens or people living in poverty are hit the hardest.
But Lorrie says this trend hits everyone, because the town she grew up loving is now full of empty spaces.
“Just pray that you know some kind of resurrection can come along for them, because it’s just nice to have all that in your local community,” she said.
The owner also told us they couldn’t compete with the bigger name grocery stores in the area.
Now people in town say their closest option would be Mahomet or Rantoul, and they may even go as far as Champaign.
The USDA says these low-access areas are towns in which at least 500 people, or 33 percent of the population lives more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.