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Smillie's Market will close by end of summer

Bill and Sharon Smillie have run the store for more than 19 years, but their history at the store actually goes back much further.

January 23, 2012|by Linda Russell, KY3 News | lrussell@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It's the beginning of the end of an era for a locally owned independent grocery store.  In just about six more months, Smillie's Market on Glenstone Avenue will be clearing the shelves. 

Bill and Sharon Smillie have run the store for more than 19 years, but their history at the store actually goes back much further.

The sun will soon set Smillie's Market, a place that has played a huge part in Bill Smillie's life.

"My dad told me to go find a job, and he told me, that grocery store looks like a good place to work," Smillie said.

Smillie started working in the building as a carry-out in 1964 during college when the store was called Consumer's Market.  In 1992, the same store became his own. 

"I inquired about the possibility of buying this store since it's our start of our career in the grocery business," said Smillie.

Bill's wife, Sharon also got her start in the store.  It's where the couple first met. 

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"We've only been married 43 years," said Smillie.

They've worked together to run a successful store. 

"My wife is a big part of our team.  She does all of our accounting, book keeping, and all the little things a guy like me don't want to be bothered with," Smillie said.

What Smillie is sure to bother with is serving his customers. 

"Mr. Smillie's here a lot, and he always has a friendly greeting for everyone; in fact, all of the employees do," said customer Pasty Summers.

Summers is just one of Smillie's loyal customers. 

"Very, very sad.  I hate to see them go," Summers said.

Competitive prices and friendly customer service are just part of the draw. 

"First of all, I like the homey atmosphere of Smillie's, and the second reason I shop here is he does so much for the community," Summers said. 

Smillie's has orchestrated field trips for the kids of Delaware Elementary, and a grocery delivery service for those who can't make it to the store.

"We do things the big guys can't do," said Smillie. 

But Smillie's service will soon end, and it's not because of the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market going up across the street.

"I'll be 67 this year, and I just didn't think it was time to extend ourselves another 10 or 15 years, so we elected not to extend the lease," said Smillie.

It will be a big change for loyal customers. 

"It will be difficult to adjust because this is my store of choice," said Summers.

The Smillies plan to finish out the last few months the same way they have the last 19 years.

"It's the people we've met along the way, our associates, and our customers that we've met, that have made the last 19 years enjoyable," Smillie said.

The lease on the building is up at the end of August.  Smillie's will likely have a clearance sale beginning in July.  Price Cutter will hold the lease on the building after that, but its plans are not clear.

Bill Smillie has already taken another job at the Ozark Empire Grocers Association.

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