Riesbeck’s Will Close Wintersville Location
Riesbeck’s Food Markets Inc. put to rest Wednesday rumors that have been circulating for several weeks when it announced plans to close its Wintersville store.
Peter Riesbeck, director of human resources for the St. Clairsville-based chain, said the store will close its doors for good following regular business hours Sept. 15. The store’s pharmacy has been closed since Aug. 13.
Company President Richard Riesbeck said Wednesday economic factors were behind the decision to close the store, which has been open for the past 15 years.
“Our store facility in Wintersville has become quite tired and outdated over the years,” Richard Riesbeck said. “The level of capital investment required to make the store a viable food shopping facility is substantially greater than we can justify. Rather than renew our lease, we are leaving the location in order to focus on our other nearby stores.”
The company will continue to operate its 12 other locations in Eastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia. Those stores are in St. Clairsville, Elm Grove, Woodsfield, Bridgeport, Shadyside, Barnesville, Follansbee, Toronto, New Concord, Cambridge, Zanesville and South Zanesville.
Peter Riesbeck said the company started notifying its approximately 60 employees about the decision three weeks ago.
“A larger percentage of the employees will be in new roles in other area stores,” he said.
As for those not being transferred in the initial closing, Peter Riesbeck said a list of all displaced employees is being created and as new positions become available, the company will notify those employees before publicly posting any positions.
He also said rumors about the fate of the other stores in the chain were nothing but that.
“We look forward to servicing the community at these locations for years to come,” he said.
Peter Riesbeck said closing the Wintersville store wasn’t an easy decision to make, but one that had to be done.
“The store was getting run down and just not up to our standards,” he said. “The outpouring from employees and customers has been overwhelming. It’s really touching.”
Sitting at the Wintersville-Steubenville line, the location has been the site of a grocery store since it opened in the early 1970s as a Harts Department Store and a Big Bear grocery store.
The building is owned by the Ferguson family of Wintersville, and is the home of other businesses, including Ferguson’s House of Furniture and the Hairway to Heaven salon.
Rumors that have been circulating about reasons behind the decision to close the store were addressed in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon by the Fergusons. The family said it had not raised the rent it was charging for the space and had not asked Riesbeck’s to leave.
“We liked working with them as a tenant and wish they were staying,” the family said.
Village Mayor Bob Gale said although the announcement was disappointing, he expects the storefront will not be empty for long.
“It’s difficult to see a food chain and pharmacy leave the area,” Gale said. “Riesbeck’s was a good business in the village, and we appreciated having them. It’s unfortunate things just didn’t work out. I’m sure the Fergusons won’t have trouble filling that location.”
In its statement, the Ferguson family said it was actively seeking a tenant for the building.