Freeburg residents will be losing the only grocery store in town soon.
Tom's Market, located at 369 Market Place Drive, will be closing, owner Don Norrenberns confirmed Wednesday.
He did not have an exact date for the closing of the Freeburg store, nor the Nashville store, which also has plans to close. The dates will depend on how fast inventory runs out. The Mascoutah location will remain open, Norrenberns said.
Norrenberns cited the "challenge of operating unionized stores" as a reason for the closure of the two markets, which are owned by Norrenberns Foods.
The company said in a statement that it found itself at a disadvantage when competing with nonunion businesses such as Walmart, Aldi or Target. Although it was a difficult decision, Norrenberns said it had "no choice" but to close the two stores.
"We are working with our supplier and the landlord to find a buyer, and are very hopeful that the facilities can reopen without the issues we have had to deal with," Don Norrenberns said. "These communities need and deserve that."
Freeburg Village Administrator Tony Funderburg said the village has made plans with local churches to get groceries delivered to seniors and people in need.
Freeburg Mayor Seth Speiser, in a statement released Wednesday, said Freeburg "has been in close contact with Joe Koppeis, the owner of the building, to come up with a viable solution to resolve this situation."
"Please know that we are doing everything possible to continue to have a supermarket in Freeburg," Speiser said in the statement. "We know this is vital to our community. We are currently researching all available options."
Tom’s suddenly closed its Brighton location in November, giving short notice to employee, according to RiverBender.com. Back then, the company said Ace Hardware had considered moving in to their Brighton space but wanted "more footage than we could give without sacrificing most of the store." Norrenberns sold that location in 2013, however, and did not make the decision to close.
Residents with ideas about the next steps for the village can email Funderburg, the Freeburg village administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.