Stores closings creates food desert


HOMER, Ill. (WCIA) — A restaurant and a grocery store in the village are going out of business, leaving little to no options left for people in the small town.

The owners of Main Street Belly Deli and Homer Country Market say there are many reasons they decided to close their doors. But the main cause comes down to one similar problem: a lack of customer support.

There’s only one restaurant left in town and, if you want any type of grocery option, Casey’s gas station is the only place within miles.

It was a sad realization when the Patel family noticed their business was failing. Sonal Patel says, “We decided to stay one more year and take a chance but still, nothing.”

She and her husband have owned Homer Country Market for five years. Because it’s such a small town, there are few spots to stop and eat or shop.
Now there will be a couple less.

Patel says, “We’ve improved a lot of things but this whole store is broken and we’ve had to fix again and it’s hard.” They have sunk hundreds of thousands into the market. “Nothing works, so this year I said we have to do this because we don’t have any money to lose it.”

The owners of both businesses say they can’t keep up with rising costs of running the businesses with dwindling customers.

Homer Mayor Ray Cunningham describes his village as place people come and go. He says, “This is generally a commuter community.” That’s part of the reason these businesses didn’t survive.

Frequent customers of Country Market can’t imagine what they’ll do without this place right around the corner from their house. Ricki Hardyman says, “It’s convenient because if you forget to buy something when you go to Champaign you can come here and pick it up. So it makes it really convenient and it’s going to be difficult when they’re gone.”

Now people have to travel to another town to get what they need. But despite these losses,Mayor Cunningham says the closures could create new economic developments in the village and “If we don’t have a grocery store, there are others that have been looking and inquiring about those locations.”

The deli owners say they’ll probably close by the end of next week. The last day for the grocery store is July 20th. They encourage people to stop by because everything, except beer and cigarettes, is 60% off.

The village of Homer is making moves to expand business growth.
Last year they bought 13 acres of land for $150,000. That’s right next to the village office on east second street. They’re looking to get company interest in using that space.

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