TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Taylorville Kroger re-opened their doors on Wednesday morning after a five-month hiatus.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency ordered the store’s closure on July 29 due to improper asbestos removal. State-approved and licensed professionals have since made desired repairs and extensively tested the store so it could be readied to serve customers again.

The grocery store said in a statement earlier this month that they intended to re-open before Christmas. Now, with around 90 employees, the day has arrived. The store saw a packed crowd waiting outside ahead of the 6 a.m. opening.

“The day was even better than I imagined,” said Eric Halvorson, Kroger Central Division media spokesman. “Shopper after shopper offered thanks for the reopening. One customer said she had delayed some Christmas shopping so she could buy certain gifts at Kroger. Another called the store ‘a blessing’ to Taylorville. The day inspired me as I saw the excitement of our Kroger customers.”

Opening ceremonies on Wednesday morning included Halvorson and Taylorville Mayor Bruce Barry in attendance speaking with shoppers and employees.

“I couldn’t be happier for the town and the people of Taylorville,” said Barry. “Kroger is another one of our neighborhood grocery stores, and we’re all happy to have it back.”

With a winter storm heading its way to Central Illinois, Halvorson said he is excited about the timing of the store’s opening.

“The timing couldn’t be better for fulfilling the needs of our Taylorville family,” said Halvorson. “We reunited our Kroger associates with our customers. We also saw familiar faces from all over town. The hugs, smiles, and conversations made the day even more special.”

Kroger also provided $5,000 in gift cards to the Taylorville Food Pantry to help them stock the shelves through the holiday season in an initiative to end hunger in Kroger communities.

“Days such as this remind me how important Kroger is to the communities we serve,” said Halvorson. “Sometimes it’s as simple as helping someone find the pineapple juice. Other times, it’s knowing our presence will help people in need put food on the table. That’s a powerful feeling.”

Halvorson is looking forward to having Kroger serve the Taylorville community again for years to come.

“We appreciate the loyalty of Kroger customers who joined us in waiting for this day,” said Halvorson. “Mayor Barry took a call from his wife at the time of our ceremony. He said she reminded him of a few things to pick up before he left. That was another lighthearted example that Kroger is a convenient neighborhood store for Taylorville.”