The only grocery store in Girard, the new County Market, opened in March 2016, after a fire 11 months prior in May 2015. Some people were having to drive to Springfield, which is about 35 miles away, to buy groceries. It was nearly impossible for some older residents to do. Many were shopping at the Dollar General, but it was running out of goods because it was not built to be a full service grocery store.
Thus there was an element of relief and celebration when the new County Market opened. About three weeks after the fire, the corporate owner Niemann Foods Inc. had set up a mobile market in the parking lot, provided a weekly shuttle to a County Market in Chatham, and took special orders.
The fire had displaced about 50 people from their jobs at the grocery store. The new replacement employs 70 workers, 30 full-time. It is also about 25 percent bigger than the last one.
Girard resident Paul Sidwell, the produce manager at the County Market, said he had worked there before. He would shop in the little trailer they set up to be the mobile market in the parking lot. He said he also worked there in the trailer on and off. “It wasn’t like a grocery store, but they gave us all the essentials,” he said. “It’s a really nice store for our small community. There’s not many small communities that have a grocery store. I think we’re lucky to have it.”
The 2015 fire had disrupted what had been a century-old grocery store tradition. Clarence Cherry opened the Girard City Meat Market in 1908. Clarence Cherry’s son, Phil, took over in 1937 after the death of his father. A store employee operated the business while Phil served in World War II. The store converted to a full-service grocery store in the 1950s. It moved to Illinois Hwy 4 at the north edge of Girard in 1967 with the IGA brand. Jim, Phil’s son, sold to County Market in 2014.
Seth Hughes had just moved to Virden almost right before the fire. He said he had only been to the County Market one time before it burned to rubble. He worked in Springfield, so he said he would shop at the Walmart there. “I was excited when they put it back up,” he said.
Dale Jameson is from Carlinville and he said he picks up as much as he can when he passes through. “I imagine it was real hard for people around here,” he said. “We really like the new store.”
The new store includes expanded organics section, free Wi-Fi, all-you-can-eat weekend breakfasts, fountain soda area, full-service deli, hot-food bar and open-air bakery. The hours are the same as before, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Source: New County Market in the Girard Community New County Market in the Girard Community
The original article can be seen here cogashub.com