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Market on Limestone grocery store closing this month
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A woman enters The Market on Limestone Tuesday, May 1, 2018, walking past a sign announcing the closing of the grocery store. The Market on Limestone, formerly known as J & J Foods, is closing this month. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Market on Limestone grocery store on Limestone Parkway in Gainesville is closing, almost a full year since it rebranded itself after years as J & J Foods.

The store, which will close May 31, possibly earlier, had blended traditional grocery store items with more local products, fresh foods and healthier options.

“We just didn’t attract enough customers to the new format to be sustainable,” President/CEO Darrell Wiley said Tuesday, May 1.

“The bottom line is we just didn’t have enough people who wanted what we were offering. There are so many stores in town now, and so much variety. We are simply one of others.”

The store at 2500 Limestone Parkway employs 65 people.

“We’re trying to find places for them with friends in the grocery industry,” Wiley said.

The news was disappointing to Michael Johnson, who has worked at the store as a courtesy clerk since April 10.

“I’m leaving anyway next month to go to the Marines,” he said. “But I was hoping actually to come back to this place when I got back. I guess that’s not going to happen.”

Customers also were dismayed about the closing.

“It was a shock,” said Joyce Westmoreland, shopping with her 14-year-old granddaughter, Madison Westmoreland. “We just came down to get a couple of things and saw the (closing) signs on the door.”

A Clermont resident, Joyce Westmoreland said her options are shopping for groceries in Cleveland or Gainesville. She goes different places, but “we’re regular shoppers (at The Market).”

“I hate to see them closing,” said Lynn Watson, who lives a couple miles from the store. “I don’t shop here all the time. I go around for the best prices, but (The Market’s) produce and meats is what I usually what I come here for. Their other groceries are too expensive.”

The store’s rebranding didn’t have much impact on her.

“I look at the cleanliness, but as far as fancy and all that stuff, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as I’m getting good prices,” she said.

Watson added, “They should have stuck with their old customers.”

Wiley said he believed “we needed to make a change.”

“Gainesville, particularly that part of Hall County, was looking for something different,” he said. “We weren’t meeting the needs of the community, and we knew that from the focus groups we encountered.”

At the reopening on May 31, 2017, Wiley said J & J Foods started considering the changes after the company hired a firm of “professional listeners” in June 2016. J & J, which has another store at 1075 Jesse Jewell Parkway, had been at the Limestone location since 2005.

“They listened to people all over the community — to our customers and customers at other grocery stores — and asked, ‘What do you like and what don’t you like about a grocery store?’” he said at the time.

The new offerings were the result, Wiley added.

Going forward, the focus will be on the Jesse Jewell Parkway location.

“We’re transitioning J & J a little bit more toward an international market store, which we’ve been doing gradually over the last 10 years,” he said.

As for the Limestone property, “we’ve been negotiating with some regional tenants to move into that location,” Wiley said. “We haven’t finalized any arrangements, so I can’t say any more about that.”

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