Baker’s IGA closing in Coshocton

| September 5, 2018

COSHOCTON – After 31 years in business, Baker’s IGA in Coshocton is calling it quits. The local supermarket located in the Downtowner Plaza and operated by Gary and Terrie Baker will be closing its doors Oct. 7. An announcement was made to employees Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Baker’s took over the former Plaza A/G Foods in 1987 from owners Bob Altman and Garland Cope.

“In the 80’s and 90’s, we had the second-highest volume of any supermarket in Coshocton County”, said CEO Gary Baker, “but nothing in the food business stays static for long. Big Bear took over the empty Kroger location, Brooks IGA closed and Aldi’s came to town. That tightened things up quite a bit. Walmart moving to Rt 36 with a Superstore presented its challenges as well. In spite of all that the Coshocton store was named IGA International Retailer of the Year in 2007!”

General Manager Mark Cutshall said, “It’s rarely one single thing that causes a location to lose sales and profits, it’s almost always a combination of elements that impact a store, certainly increased competition is one of them, but the closure of local industries, the increase in online shopping, and the prevalence of Dollar Store formats has taken a toll as well. Customers used to think of the supermarket exclusively as the place to buy canned goods, paper products, household items and pet foods. That is no longer the case.”

Terrie Baker said, “The cost of doing business in an older facility is staggering. When the building was built in 1968, utility costs were very low. Today energy is almost three times what it was in 1987. As our equipment has aged, it has decreased in energy efficiency. The cost of health insurance for employees, delivery charges and credit card usage fees have all gone up substantially as well.”

Gary said, “Last year we ran calculations with our supplier’s store design department  and determined that to replace most of our equipment and make the building more energy efficient would cost the company a minimum of  three-fourths of a million dollars and likely more. At age 65 you find it is impossible to pay that debt back until long past retirement. I love the business but don’t plan to stay in it until I’m 80!”

Attempts to sell the location to another retailer did not materialize according to Baker, “Most other retailers see what we see; a saturated market with flat population growth and a substantial investment required, and that’s a big risk”.

Manager Brett Bantum said, “I’ve loved managing the Coshocton store these past 14 years and I will miss the interaction with all our Coshocton area Baker’s IGA customers and our Baker’s Coshocton store team. I love this business and hope to be in it a long time.”

Terrie said, “We’ve had a good run these past three decades in Coshocton and will continue to operate our four other Baker’s IGA stores in Mount Vernon, Newcomerstown, Sugarcreek and Scio. This closure in no way impacts our other stores, it is business as usual in our other four locations”.

“Several of Coshocton Baker’s associates have been offered positions at other Baker’s locations,” Terrie said, “We are hoping a number of our Coshocton associates will be able to relocate to our other store locations.”

In closing, Gary said, “We want to thank all the citizens of Coshocton County and surrounding areas that have supported us during this time. We have loved having a store in Coshocton, Terrie and I moved here in 1988 and this has been home to us and to our children Heather and Sean. We love the area and the people.”

Baker’s IGA Coshocton plans to remain open the next few weeks as they decrease the amount of grocery inventory in the store. They expect that business will end on or around Sunday, Oct. 7. Once the store closes any remaining inventory will be shipped to the four other locations.

It is possible that an auction of the store equipment may be held in November.

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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