Heartland Foods in Hillsboro is closing at the end of the year, and Valery Schmidt is making alternative plans.
Schmidt loaded a frozen turkey into her truck on Sunday, shrugged and said that the closing of Heartland Foods at the end of the year means she’ll do more shopping at Dale’s Supermarket, which is where she does most of her shopping anyway.
“I may also go to Newton for some things,” Schmidt said.
It’s unclear why Heartland Foods is closing. Paul Barnes, Hillsboro store manager and part owner in the Heartland Foods company, would only confirm that the store would close by the end of the year.
Heartland has 14 stores in Kansas and one in Nebraska, according to its website. Heartland Foods acquired the former Vogts Home Town Market in February.
Mayor Delores Dalke said she did not know the reason Heartland Foods was closing. She heard about it from her daughter-in-law who works there.
“That’s how it got around town, through the employees,” Dalke said. “That grocery store which was Vogts, is by far the largest one in town, and then when Heartland bought it we were all anxious that it would continue. And now we find out they’re leaving.”
“We’ve had very little communication with Heartland,” said Hillsboro’s economic development director Clint Seibel. “We’re surprised and very disheartened. It’s sad to see any of our businesses close, especially a large grocery store like Heartland. It was a big asset for a small town.”
With Alco going out of business, Seibel said, “We’re facing the prospect of having two of our larger facilities open right now. We’ve got our work cut out for us.
“I think what it basically says, as far as the big picture goes, is that many of our businesses in a small community are fragile and depend on people to buy local to keep them viable,” Seibel said. “I think this is an illustration that if we want to keep our businesses strong, we have to support local businesses.”
Jan Meliza used to shop at Vogts, and after Heartland moved in less than a year ago, she switched and did her shopping at Dale’s Supermarket.
“The prices,” Meliza said while gassing up her car at the nearby pumps. Heartland closing “doesn’t bother me at all,” Meliza said.
Terry Crumrine blames the under-construction Walmart for driving out Heartland Foods.
“It’s too bad,” Crumrine said while loading groceries into his pickup. “Big businesses have their plusses and their minuses.”
Emma Hett was on her way into Heartland Sunday morning for breakfast items. She hadn’t heard that the grocery store was closing.
“It’ll definitely make it more difficult on Sunday mornings to pick up stuff for a good Sunday breakfast,” said Hett, who also shops in McPherson and plans to shop at the new Walmart scheduled to open in the Spring.
For others, the closing of Heartland means losing their jobs. Troy Seaman said his mother-in-law soon will be laid off.
Asked where he will do his shopping after Heartland closes, Seaman said, “I’ll probably go to Walmart.”