Brick’s Market in Tunkhannock announced to its employees Thursday morning that the store would be closed effective Aug. 31.
“We’re going to have a giant retirement sale, starting by Monday at the latest,” owner Lynn Reynolds said, noting that she and her husband Paul had only made the decision of a closing date for the store the night before. “It’s the end of the month for accounting purposes, and allowed us to give two weeks notice.”
Brick’s employs 34 full and part-time workers, and Reynolds said the ones who were present Thursday morning took the news as well as can be expected.
They had announced publicly last December that they were looking for the right buyer.
“That person never materialized,” Reynolds said, “and so, here we are.”
Both Lynn and Paul Reynolds said they wanted to extend a major thank you to their customers over the years, for their loyalty and support.
“Without all of them, this wouldn’t have ever happened, and it was a pleasure to serve everybody,” Lynn smiled. “But it’s now time to retire.”
Tunhannock Mayor Norm Ball said the community had been prepared that the store might close, “But we wish it didn’t have to happen. It’s never good to see workers out of a job.”
Ball said that perhaps more important than no longer having a grocery store within the Tunkhannock Borough limits, “What is lost is a reliable friend to every school club, Little League and church group who could almost always count on something, and there were also a couple of generations of kids who learned the value of having and keeping a job and the importance of good customer service.”
Lynn’s father, the late George Brick, who ran a grocery store in Factoryville, purchased the building in Tunkhannock on East Tioga Street that had housed Firestine’s Market in 1970, and changed its name.
Previous owner Ernie Firestine had started the store 17 years earlier while a successful merchant in Pittston.
George Brick was one of the original founders of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, which partly got started because some of the local stores in the county worried out loud in 1993 about what a big-box store like Wal-Mart might do to impact commerce.
It came and the community seemed to weather it well.
However, when Wal-Mart moved across Route 29 in 2011 and doubled its size including a full-service grocery component, “the handwriting seemed to be on the wall,” Mayor Ball said.
Thomas Markets, which had taken over space previously occupied by Bi-Lo just outside the west end of the borough limits in 2005, decided to close its doors in August of 2014.
The greater Tunkhannock community is also served by Weis Markets in Eaton Township, and an Aldi’s is also expected to be launched in the vicinity of the old WalMart sometime by the end of the year.
When Lynn and Paul Reynolds announced the store would be put up for sale last winter, they acknowledged the grocery business had changed dramatically over the past two generations, yet they believed their prices were competitive because Brick’s belonged to a consortium of independent grocery stores that carried a ShurSave emblem.
Lynn Reynolds said her family would miss the friends they had made over the years, “but it was just time.”