Eight months after fire, Allison grocery store back in business - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eight months after fire, Allison grocery store back in business


To many of us, a grocery store is a convenience we take for granted, But one small Butler County community knows just how important a store is. It has been without its only grocery store for nearly eight months.

J & C Grocery Store on Main Street in Allison was destroyed by fire back on September 11th.  Eight fire departments helped put the fire out, and two firefighters were hurt.

The store is already seeing a steady stream of customers, who started lining up before 7 a.m. Wednesday to get their first look inside.  The owner is glad to have risen from the ashes, to be back in business.

Bernita Wiebke is thrilled to be pushing a shopping cart through her hometown grocery store.  She's lived in Allison 13 years, and after the fire, quickly realized how much she missed not having this everyday convenience.

"Well for me it was really tough because I had a medical problem that told me I couldn't drive for about six months, and I had to depend on other people to take me and that's when it really taught me what it meant not to have a grocery store in town," said Wiebke.

Many in the community feared J & C's owner, Jay Skarr, would not reopen the business, since he's nearing retirement age.  But Skarr says he knows the store is an economic lifeline for this small community.

"Main Street, there's just been nothing going on Main Street whatsoever. I know the guy at the pharmacy across the street, and just all over it's been quiet and slow for everybody.  So this will now get people back to the community again," Skarr said.

Not only did Skarr rebuild, he made the new store better than ever.   It includes over 200 new items, and even has a coffee bar.

"Oh I think it's great because even for your little things it's nice to have it open in your town," said Rose Adelmund of Greene.

Skarr plans to keep running this store for many years to come, and local residents understand how important it will be to support the business to make it a success.

"It's important we support the grocery store if we want our town to grow, which I think we all do," Wiebke said.

The store's two full-time employees and several part-timers have been pitching in at Skarr's other grocery store in Dumont since the fire.  All of them are now back in Allison, working at the new store. 

Damage to the Allison grocery store was so extensive, the state fire marshal was only able to determine where it started, but not the cause of the blaze.

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