By Paul Gorski
The planned closing of the Schnucks grocery stores on Rural and South Alpine seems to have struck a nerve with Rock River Times readers. Comments on articles and letters to the editor regarding the topic are many and forceful. As I have worked for small and/or family-owned companies that went through similar closures or buyouts, I sympathize completely with Schnucks employees and customers affected by these changes.
I do not normally shop at Schnucks; I pass two Schucks stores on my way to Woodman’s. I like the variety of Illinois- and Wisconsin-manufactured products at Woodman’s, and the prices are good. If I stop at Schucks, I usually stop by the store on 11th Street. Heck, I was just there this weekend. My point is that I am not a regular Schnucks on Rural customer, but you may be, and I encourage you to continue your fight to either keep it open or replace it with another store.
Keeping the store on Rural open is a long shot. Schnucks management probably thought long and hard about which stores to close. That said, let Schnucks management know how you feel. Schnucks’ contact information is here: http://www.schnucks.com/contact_us.asp. I encourage you to call and write. The phone number is (800) 264-4400. You might suggest reduced hours, or suggest some community activities at or near the store that would help drive more customers into the store. You will have to be creative.
Replacing the store with another grocer is more likely. The non-compete agreement/argument could be challenged in court. Illinois courts do not always support non-compete agreements. Agreements that have a negative effect on the general public and are not reasonable in territory and activity restrictions have been defeated in court. You will have to find an attorney sympathetic to your cause, but more importantly, you will have to find a grocer willing to fill the space. You will likely only be able to challenge the non-compete agreement if you had a grocer who was genuinely interested in moving into the space.
Both of these solutions require you to organize your friends and neighbors. You may even have to raise a little cash for an attorney. In either case, I would avoid demonizing Schnucks’ management. Engage them with the hope this might become a positive public relations opportunity for Schnucks’ corporate leaders. “The public took a stand, we reviewed our plans, and we are working with the community towards a mutually beneficial solution.”
Yes, I know, I am a bit optimistic, but being a naysayer does not help advance this cause one bit.
Paul Gorski (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.
Posted May 27, 2014