Lucky’s Supermarket plans to end operations at its Sixth Avenue Northeast store Saturday, and an official with the property owner said the location’s next use will complement efforts to revitalize Decatur’s downtown.
Jim Aycock, vice chairman of Cook’s Pest Control, said there are no firm plans for how the property owned by Cook Properties LLC will be used, but “we’ve had discussions.”
The property at 115 Sixth Ave. N.E. is just east of the new Cook Museum of Natural Science.
“Our major concern is doing something good for downtown Decatur,” Aycock said. “Would that help the museum? I hope so. Just like the museum is helping downtown Decatur.”
Larry Terry, manager of the Decatur Lucky’s store, said employees were told Monday of plans to cease operations. Officials with Huntsville-based Ragland Brothers Retail Cos., which operates the store, did not return telephone calls requesting comments on reasons for the closure.
“All I can tell you is I was told our lease was not being renewed,” Terry said.
Aycock said the Lucky’s lease expires Nov. 30. He said he began trying to contact Ragland Brothers officials in the spring to discuss the lease but never received a substantive response. As a result, he said, he wrote Ragland Brothers earlier this month saying the lease wouldn’t be renewed.
Cook’s Properties LLC holds property that Cook’s Pest Control utilizes and other property for rental and investment. The property, which is at the corner of Lee Street and Sixth Avenue, is valued for tax purposes at $902,400, according to Morgan County records.
It has been a location for various grocery stores for approximately 60 years. Several longtime customers learned of Lucky’s planned closing as they shopped Tuesday and were disappointed.
“They’re going to be missed. I can tell you that,” said Addie Foster, a resident of 15th Avenue Northwest who said she’s been a regular customer at the location for about 30 years. “It’s a great store. … It’s a most convenient place to shop.”
Joyce Jenkins said she drove from her home in Southwest Decatur to shop at Lucky’s for the past eight to 10 years.
“I just like coming down here, and I like their hairspray,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think it’s a good thing (that it's closing) … . There are people over here who don’t have a grocery store.”
Terry said he didn't know how many of the store's employees might be offered jobs at other stores owned by Ragland Brothers rather than facing termination.
"A couple of meat guys have been offered to go to another store," he said, and other employees could get offers later.
He said the Decatur store has roughly a dozen employees with about seven of them full time.
He said merchandise not sold by Saturday will be boxed up and shipped to other Ragland Brothers groceries. He said that process would begin Monday, and employees can continue reporting to work clearing the store until the task is complete.
Tammy Smallwood, a cashier at the Decatur Lucky’s for eight years, said she wasn’t completely surprised the store was closing.
“We’ve heard rumors for years they were going to shut it down when our lease was up,” she said.
She said she’ll look for work in Hartselle where her husband recently started a new job “and draw my unemployment while I’m hunting.”
Mark Champion of Decatur said his family operated Champion Foodland in the mid to late 1980s in the building now used by Lucky’s. He was saddened to learn of Lucky’s plans.
“It hurts to see that," he said. "Even people across the river would come to that store. If it hadn’t been for family illness, we’d probably still be there.”
County records show the building was constructed in 1958. Champion said Kroger operated at the site before moving to its current Beltline Road location, and he knew of a former Kroger employee who worked at the Sixth and Lee location as early as 1962.
“It’s always been a grocery store,” Champion said.
But when Lucky’s closes at 5 p.m. Saturday, groceries no longer will be sold there.