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The Economy vs. Business as Usual

News of Village Pantry store closings spark concerns about local economy

MUNCIE, Ind. -- News that two Village Pantry stores in Muncie, Ind., were closing sounded alarms for a local newspaper and set its discussion board off with dire comments about the economy, but Village Pantry CEO Mick Parker said the closings aren 't a sign of the times, but rather a newly revived company conducting smart business.

“These were leases that expired that we opted not to renew, just normal course of business,” Parker told CSP Daily News. “These are sites that could have, should have been closed a long time ago, and now the leases expired.”

The [image-nocss] Star Press reported yesterday that the two stores near the Ball State University campus were closing this week. Parker said another store in Indianapolis also was closed.

Clerks in the Muncie stores were emptying shelves and putting some products in storage Tuesday evening, according to the newspaper. A third Village Pantry in the Muncie area remained open.

Posting of the story on the Star Press website set off a string of posts by readers lamenting the closings as a sign of the poor U.S. economy and even bad budgeting on the part of local politicians.

"There is just so much competition for the available discretionary dollars out there, and the need to consolidate behind the most profitable, most used locations just makes common sense," wrote one website poster. "It just is another indicator of our needing to make the hard business decisions to reduce overhead in light of the new reality of our economic situation. ... If the city can't [fix] this, more businesses like Village Pantry's will fold, and we will find ourselves with less and less choice in the next two years."

Another poster was less willing to point the finger at local politicos. “It isn't the city's fault that the country is in a recession. Nor can you blame government leaders for this. Businesses are in business to make money, and since we the citizens of this city can't spend as much as we use to, it seems silly to have three of the same store within a half mile of each other. I can see why consolidating is a good thing."

Marsh Supermarkets, purchased in 2006 by Florida-based Sun Capital Partners, spun off its Village Pantry division in 2007. After the Sun Capital purchase, the company closed a handful of underperforming Marsh Supermarket and Village Pantry locations in Indiana.

Indianapolis-based Village Pantry operates 170 convenience stores throughout Indiana and Ohio. Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital Partners Inc. is a private investment firm focused on leveraged buyouts, equity and other investments in market-leading companies that can benefit from its in-house operating professionals and experience.

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