Winegars to close Bountiful store after decades in the community
By Louise R. SHAW firstname.lastname@example.org BOUNTIFUL—Calling it the hardest decision he’s had to make in his life, Lonny Winegar confirmed that the family Winegars store on Orchard Drive since the 1950s is closing this month. “We’re heart-broken to do it,” he said. “I grew up in this store. Forty years of my life have been here.” “Our customers that have been shopping with us for years are devastated,” he added. “It’s a hard thing to be part of a community for so long and not be able to financially afford to be there anymore.” The Winegars stores in Clearfield and Roy will remain open, he said, but competition from new grocers in the North Salt Lake/Bountiful area has necessitated the closure of the Bountiful store only. “We weren’t able to make changes fast enough to be able to stay competitive with the other stores,” he said. “We had hoped to be able to weather it. We bought the building we’re in and had plans to remodel, but our sales turned so rapidly we had a hard decision to make.” A Subway added to the offerings inside some time ago “didn’t help like we’d hoped,” he said. The decision was also made to open Sundays, but was reversed recently. The America First Credit Union will remain in operation inside the building, he said, as the owners look for tenants to lease or buyers for the space. Existing stores have often been negatively impacted when redevelopment agencies or community development agencies are established, said Winegar, giving tax breaks to new businesses. The Smith’s on 2600 South in Woods Cross is in a redevelopment agency area and the Lee’s on Redwood Road in North Salt Lake is in community development agency area. Lonny and his brother, Weston, are the fourth-generation owners of the business. They bought it from their father, Dee, some years ago. The first store owned by the family was the Woods Cross Mercantile, which was opened in Woods Cross in 1917 by Thomas E. Winegar. The Orchard Drive store was the second location and others have opened and closed according to demand. Employees own one-third of the company, according to Lonny Winegar. An employee stock ownership plan was established in 2010. Where possible, employees will be moved to other stores if they choose, said Winegar, though those stores are now fully staffed. “We’ll do our best,” he said. Prices have been discounted store-wide as merchandise is cleared. This week, prices were marked 20 percent off throughout the store, at 3371 S. Orchard Drive. “We will continue to sell at discounts now until the close,” said Winegar.