Wednesday, Aug 16, 2017
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Retail

Last customers reminisce as Andersons stores close

  • n1schroeder-jpg-2

    Joe Lyons, left, of Hilco Fixture Finders, LLC, the company liquidating the store, helps former Andersons employee Bob Schroeder load a vegetable crate on his trailer.

    THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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  • n1mustgo-jpg-1

    ‘Everything must go,’ including the sign, as The Andersons stores closed.

    THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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A Gibsonburg man loaded crates from The Andersons onto a trailer hooked to his pickup truck just hours before the retail store was set to close Saturday for the last time.

Those crates mean more to Bob Schroeder than most — he met his wife, Mary, while they were both working for the company more than 45 years ago. They were hired the same day, Feb. 2, 1970, at the corporate office in Maumee.

“That’s where I met my wife, after 10 years of working here I finally married her,” he said. “It took me 10 years before I could finally catch her.”

Employees at the Maumee Andersons store on Illinois Avenue helped Mr. Schroeder load wood-pallet crates with “The Andersons” painted on the side.

It’s something to remember a place that means so much to him and his wife, who retired from a treasury position on May 12. 

Mrs. Schroeder worked for the company for 47 years and her husband worked there for 28 years in the accounting area.

“It was a nice ride. We don’t complain,” Mr. Schroeder said. “We were both very fortunate to work for this good company.”

The Andersons, a Toledo icon, began its retail division in 1952, five years after the agribusiness began. The stores have been marketed by a slogan of “A store like no other” because they carried more than 100,000 items, including traditional groceries; specialty wine and beer; fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats; clothing; tools and hardware items; lawn and garden equipment; fertilizer; plants; automotive supplies; household items; and pets and pet supplies.

“I’m going to miss it, absolutely miss it,” Mr. Schroeder said after a long sigh.

As a farmer, Mr. Schroeder said he dropped grain off and would then go across the street to the retail store for supplies. Or just “walk through the aisles and get a Tony Packo’s hot dog,” he said.

The two retail stores in the area and two in Columbus closed their doors for the last time at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Blade was not allowed inside the store on Saturday, and employees declined to comment.

The Andersons, a Monclova Township agribusiness that operates grain, ethanol, rail, plant nutrient, and retail units, announced in January it would eliminate its money-losing retail division, which has incurred $20 million in losses the last eight years. Its store closures meant 1,050 employees, including nearly 600 in the Toledo area, would lose their jobs.

Retail workers’ layoffs began in April. Chicago-based liquidator Hilco Fixture Finders LLC was hired to dispose of the stores’ fixtures and other large items.

Various items, including a bread display rack and other wooden crates, remained for sale during the store’s remaining hours. Other items remained tagged for its owners to pick up.

The company will keep its Maumee store at 530 Illinois Ave. to use as a warehouse or for other purposes, while the other stores will be sold, said Julie Payeff, a company manager. The Andersons Mower Center business at 1220 Ford St. in Maumee remains open, but also will be sold.

Tom Verner of Waterville also stopped by the store Saturday and stacked shelving units onto the top of his car.

Mr. Verner, who is the treasurer of the Maumee Valley Adventurers, a nonprofit hiking and biking organization, said the shelves were perfect to store equipment.

“We’ve got a small warehouse to erect this, so it’s just perfect for us,” he said. “I only wish I had more stuff to store because these are really nice shelves.”

Mr. Verner said he frequently shopped at The Andersons and was an “avid buyer” in their wine department.

“I’m sad to see it close. It’s just like a little piece of you that’s missing all of a sudden,” Mr. Verner said.

Other customers pushed out a metal cart they purchased, along with a pan.

A Lambertville man also plans to repurpose The Andersons merchandise hangers he purchased Saturday. Bill Bailiff carried a bag full of the metal hangers for less than $4.

“They’re so robust, if you put two of them side-by-side, they’re sturdy enough to hang your shovel or garden rake,” Mr. Bailiff said.

He also nabbed a near full box of contractor cleanup bags.

He visited the Talmadge Road location earlier Saturday, but said the merchandise was heavily picked over.

About 50 cars were in the Maumee location parking lot on Saturday.

Contact Allison Reamer at: areamer@theblade.com, 419-724-6506, or on Twitter @AllisonRBlade.

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