Employees behind the customer service desk chatted with customers as they stopped in Sunday at Wonder Foods for a few last-minute items.
Some of those long-time patrons had already read the news on social media. Others were surprised and missed the “Store Closing, Everything 10% Off” sign by the Wonder Lake grocery store’s automatic doors.
Wonder Food’s Facebook page announced the store’s pending closure Wednesday. A manager did not return a reporter’s call, but staff working Sunday said they were told last Monday they were closing in two weeks, said Chloe Scott. She has worked at the grocer for 14 months.
“I got lucky” with the timing, Scott said. She works two jobs and just gotten another, third position. She planned to give notice at one of those other jobs, then found out her position at the grocery store would end. “I will keep those two,” she added.
Scott and Jeannie Gebbia took turns checking out customers while chatting with a reporter. They were sad not just that the store will close, but also said they will miss seeing the customers they’ve gotten to know over the years.
One of those patrons is Dick Colbert. He’s been coming to the store at 7505 Hancock Drive since moving to town five years ago, Colbert said.
“It is sad, they are convenient” for him to shop at during the week, Colbert said.
He didn’t do a majority of his shopping at the local store, Colbert added. His big weekly trips were to the Jewel or Meijer stores in McHenry or Crystal Lake, he added.
Instead, his trips to Wonder Foods were for lottery tickets, beer, or produce and meat mid-week for dinners. On Sunday, he cashed in a winning lottery ticket.
“I came in for their bakery a few times, and to see friendly faces,” Colbert said.
Joe Poulos said he’s been shopping at the store for 20 years. “It is just not right, it is not good,” that the store will close, he said. “The people who come here are neighbors.”
Both women said they have made many friends working at the local store.
“They have added me on Facebook or asked for my phone number,” Scott said of the people she’s met at work.
At Christmas or Thanksgiving, or even their birthdays, customers have told her to pick a bottle of liquor for them to buy her as a present, Gebbia said. “I am going to miss then,” she added.
Scott and Gebbia said they felt bad for the residents who don’t drive but would walk to the store. One regular customer is known for using his scooter in the spring and summer to pick up groceries, they said. In colder weather, the man would walk to the store or catch a ride. She’s given that man a ride home at the end of her shift, too, Gebbia said.
“They rely on this store. It is heart breaking. They wish it would stay a grocery store,” Gebbia said.
The two employees both have been told the building is already sold, and that retailer Dollar Tree plans to move in.
The Dollar Tree website is advertising online for the store manager at the 7505 Hancock Drive, Wonder Lake, location. That is the grocery store’s address.
Neither Scott nor Gebbia said they planned on applying.
Gebbia said she will probably file for unemployment. “I would like to take a little break before I find something else,” she said.