Regular customers walked in, crying. An employee of twenty years stepped out for the day. Store shelves sat half-empty and one woman perused during the quiet afternoon hours.
Then, in the back of the store, was the owner of Andy’s Affiliated Foods restocking on meat as he had done for decades. It’s what made the store famous for years.
“I hate to leave it. But it’s time,” Bob Jelsma, the 72-year-old owner of his family’s longtime grocery store off of South Cleveland Avenue and 18th Street, said as he piled chicken and pork products in the refrigerated section.
A ‘Retiring’ notice is posted on the neon sign out front alongside a ‘Going out of Business’ sale — – the first in Andy’s 72-year tenure in Sioux Falls. His father, Andy, opened the building in 1950. Franklin Food Market is the only local store to stand longer.
“I don’t know where I’m going next, a recliner,” he laughed, speaking to a distributor.
Andy’s Affiliated Foods is closing permanently by April, or when food sells out. The building and all its parts will be liquidated in a sale.
This is the second grocery closure in the city, but will not ensure the same food desert the chain store Hy-Vee’s latest closure did in the central area.
Jelsma waited two years to sell his next-door plot of land to a grocer of sorts, Dollar General, instead of taking developer money to bulldoze and build apartments on the block.
“It was supposed to be apartments, at one point,” he said.
Jelsma put off retirement for those two years while easements, permits and more went through for the store so that the basics could be offered to people who walk or bike to get food.
“Milk. Bread. Toilet paper. That’s all,” Jelsma said. “That’s all I needed to get here.”
One person who once biked to the store was Jordan Warmbein, a produce manager and cashier of nine years at Andy’s.
“I grew up near here. I had nine siblings and my mom would send me on my bike to get groceries or things for them,” Warmbein said. “And the regulars, there’s a few I’ll miss. There’s been a few crying and then I start tearing up.”
Jelsma has been “one of the best bosses. It’s tough. He’s 72 and deserves to see grandkids,” she said.
Dollar General will now be the only grocer on the block.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Andy’s Affiliated Foods closing after Dollar General opens