We don’t like to see any business shut its doors. Not only must its patrons find another shopping option, but closing is unsettling for employees. And when a business that’s closing down is one of the places we frequent, the loss feels, well, personal.
Thus we are particularly sorry to learn that the Ray’s Apple Market at Leavenworth and Sixth streets will be closing soon. Although small as big boxes go, it performed admirably as a neighborhood grocery, enjoying as much foot traffic as shoppers in cars. And barely a block from the Mercury, it has often been Mercury employees’ first choice for lunch — its specials have been terrific. Not only has it been where employees headed when they wanted a more substantial snack than vending machines offer, but several have done all of their grocery shopping there on the way home from work.
It was gratifying that one of the owners, Mike Floersch, whose father opened the first Ray’s, acknowledged that “neighborhood support for the downtown store has been good.”
He also said, however, that the eastside Ray’s has been a casualty of what he called “a significant change in the retail landscape.” The most significant change to the downtown retail grocery landscape has been the Hy-Vee store, which opened several years ago just a few blocks to the east in the downtown redevelopment.
We welcomed Hy-Vee as good for Manhattan knowing it meant competition for our Ray’s, but found ourselves hoping Ray’s would find a way to thrive. That’s because despite also finding satisfaction at Hy-Vee, Dillons and Aldi, Ray’s, which began in Seneca in the 1960s, has felt just a tad more local.
In addition to a larger store at 3007 Anderson Ave., — where the employees displaced by the downtown store’s closing will be able to work — Ray’s Apple Markets operate in Clay Center, Council Grove, St. Marys, Fairbury, Neb., and, of course, Seneca. Mr. Floersch put it well when he said, “We need all the support we can get. We’re just the little guy.”
We’ll miss the “little guy” a block away — the folks there couldn’t have been more neighborly — and we wish all the stores well.