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June 23, 2013

Page’s IGA says goodbye

Grocery on Lafayette closing at end of July

TERRE HAUTE — Shoppers on Terre Haute’s north side will soon have one less option for groceries as Page’s IGA on Lafayette Avenue is planning to close at the end of July.

There’s still some time to shop at the long-time, family-owned business, and Robin Carroll, a loyal customer for more than a decade, said she will continue to buy her groceries at Page’s as long as it’s open.

“I hate to hear they are closing,” Carroll said pushing her cart through the spacious and well-stocked store Friday morning. “I’ll shop here as long as I can.”

The decision to close is market-driven. Like many neighborhood grocery stores, the competition from larger chains has taken its toll, said Arnold Page, who founded the store with his wife of more than six decades, Norma.

“The biggies have taken over,” Arnold said. “But we’ve had a good run.”

Page’s opened at 2600 Lafayette Ave. in 1974. Before that, the family operated grocery stores at other locations in town, including one just down the street near Plaza North. The family’s first store, operated by Arnold and Norma, was at Lafayette and Grand Avenue in the 12 Points neighborhood.

That first store was small and opened at a time when there seemed to be a grocery store on every corner, Norma said.

“It’s when we were young,” Norma said. She and Arnold lived in the back of the store with a hot plate and three young kids, she recalled smiling. “It wasn’t easy.”

The Page family has remained in the grocery business since those first years and closing the long-time neighborhood grocery was a difficult and sad decision, said Ron Page, who manages the store today. Another son, Gary, also works at the grocery store. Another son, Buzz, operates Page’s Food Store in Brazil, which is remaining open.

Currently, there are about 20 full- and part-time employees at Page’s IGA on Lafayette, Ron said. At the store’s peak, it employed about 30 people, he said.

Page’s is known for its meat, said Don Moats, who lives in the neighborhood and has shopped at Page’s since the family store was farther south on Lafayette about where Wendy’s fast food restaurant is located today, he said. He’s fiercely loyal to Page’s in part because it is a locally-owned, family businesses, he said.

“I hate to see them shut down,” Moats said, adding that he refuses to shop at corporate-owned grocery stores. “I’ll have no choice but to go to Baesler’s [Market],” a long drive from the north side, but another family-owned store, he said.

It’s appropriate that Page’s is known for meat. Arnold Page, originally from Linton, first worked as a meat cutter in that Greene County town. He then came to Terre Haute and cut meat for Kroger for about five years before launching his own business with his high school sweetheart, Norma.

“She’s probably as good of help as I’ve ever had,” Arnold said of his wife with a smile.

In addition to a fresh meat counter, Page’s also has its own bakery and fresh produce section.

Carroll, still pushing her shopping cart, said she will likely shop at Kroger after Page’s closes down. But she’ll miss the store. Page’s had good variety, good prices and a clean store, she said.

The Page’s property, about 13 acres, is currently for sale, Ron said. As of now, it’s not known what will become of the store once the Page family has moved on.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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