CAPTION: This boarded up IGA sits vacant about 1 mile from my house. Without the winter snow cover, the building looks even worse with weeds eating it up and the roof slowly sagging.
I'm not sure about others, but when I was a kid IGA stores were ubiquitous. In my hometown alone we had about 5 within a 5 mile radius. There was McGee's IGA in Middletown and Trenton, Ohio. There was Brock and Paul's in Lebanon and Hunter, Ohio. Most of the IGA's had the name of their owner's in front. Today, there are none. IGAs were scrappy independent grocery stores. The intitials stood for the Independent Grocers Association. But their snappy commercials in the 1970s and 80s smilingly said it really stood for "I Get Attention." And you did at an IGA. My parents used to buy beef from the local McGee's IGA, from locally butchering steer. And, yes, there would be the old-timey butcher standing behind the counter. He'd know exactly how thick Mrs. Monson liked her steaks or how thin Mr. Miller like his ham sliced.
IGA is on my mind because I was writing about this group of grocery stores in my "Life of Pie" series.
Later when I moved to Oxford, Ohio there was still a sleepy IGA offering cash-strapped college students an alternative to the Kroger behemoth across town. That IGA has long since been shuttered.
There was an attempt by some IGAs in the early 90s to compete on a more level playing field with the emerging Wal-Mart grocery stores and expanding Krogers. These were called "IGA plus". There were several in northern Kentucky. These had a bank branch, dry cleaner, and florist inside. There was a smaller IGA plus in Germantown, Ohio that held on until last year. That too has now closed.
Cincinnati, Ohio used to be carpeted with neighborhood IGAs but they're largely shuttered, put out of business by Wal-Mart and others.
Personally, I do miss these IGA stores. Sure, they did not have the selection that the larger stores do, but they had personality and a stake in the community. I know there are still IGA stores around and I do run into them on occasion primarily in very small towns and perhaps my area of Ohio has just seen more shut down that most areas. Do you still have an IGA nearby? Do you shop in it? What is it like?
We have an IGA in Arlington OH, still going strong. Very good meats, better than the chain stores. Produce is a little weak. Great bakery. It is amazing the variety they have. Appleseed IGA just off of Route 68 in Arlington, OH.
We have one in our small town. And there is at least one in the next largest town near us. Prices are certainly higher than the Aldi's that we do the majority of our shopping at. But we do still go there when we need things between our twice monthly Aldi shopping.
When I was a teenager my mother worked at the local IGA store. Everyone was so friendly and knew the customers. Now therearen't any IGA stores in the area where I live. I don't even know if there are any in MI.
We used to have an IGA in the area where I now live in WV. The building is now owned by a local family and they have a small store complete with a butcher (fresh meats!) deli, small produce section and Amish bulk foods. They sell local honey and produce from local farmers when in season. It's wonderful! I don't think there were IGA's where I lived growing up (in the DC Suburbs), but I used to like stopping at one on my way to the beach in NC. Not sure if they're still in business or not.
I used to work in an IGA store, although it has since closed. There is a very nice one, however, here in Shelby, Ohio. Cornell's IGA has been around for a very long time and still offers the kind of small town service we love.
We still have an IGA in our town of Potsdam, NY. It's been switching names back and forth for the past 20 years, sometimes it's IGA and sometimes they change it to Big M.
It's a good store and it caters to the college kids in town, I buy my meats there and they have a great deli. Friendly place where everybody knows each other.
There are still a few IGA's around this area. As of a year ago there was still a small one just over an hour from us. Ironically, it is located near Crossville in the the community of Clarkrange about ten to twenty minutes from several small Mennonite communities. I know a lot of the folks there shop at this store. The ones we had within half an hour of us have been closed for at least 15 years.I never cared for the meat there. It seemed to spoil rapidly. Some of the other products were also not very good quality either but we did shop there for some of our groceries. When I was a kid my mom always bought Cokes there because they would run sales 10 for a dollar (This was right after the 2 liter bottles came out).
In East Tenn. near Gatlinburg, our IGA's changed their name to PRICE-LESS. They are still part of IGA, they sell at their cost, then at the register when totaled they add 10% for cost. what we buy it is still cheaper than Wal-Mart but you still have to watch prices because from one time to the next the prices could go up or down. In some areas, just like ours, they have either changed the name for closed down.
Happy hunting girls
personally, I have thought the challenges with IGAs and service stations on every corner have been the same. Too many stores for the population they were all located in. It used to be that a franchise would be studied to see if the population would allow it to be profitable and not be an over satuation challenge.
I think success goes to ones head and displaces tried and true wisdom.
We still have IGA stores here in Columbus,Ohio. There is one a few blocks from me but I have only been there a couple times. I love the small store feel but have found some of the prices to be pretty high. When we lived in the country near Mt.Sterling, Ohio,we did shop at the IGA there.