Community rallies to help grocery: ‘They’re part of our family’

A community has rallied to help save a struggling Darke County grocery store.

Sutton’s has been in Arcanum since 1934 but has recently fallen on hard times.

Last Saturday, several customers helped organize a rally to encourage the community to “buy it all and empty the shelves.”

“Overwhelming I think is the biggest word we can use,” Sutton’s President Josh Urlage said of the experience. “Our community just rallied around us. That emotional high you can’t repeat ever.”

A local Girl Scouts troop showed up to help stock shelves, bag groceries and provide coffee and cookies to customers. Some employees came in on their off-day to lend a hand, and even some community members volunteered to stock shelves and help.

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Urlage said the financial strain the store has been feeling for the last year or so is in part because Sutton’s expanded to Union City in September 2017, but he had to close the store in July 2019.

He equated his experience in 2019 to riding a roller coaster with several ups and downs but said that the store has been stuck in a bit of a “downward spiral.”

“We kind of were hitting rock bottom here the last couple weeks,” he said. “We hadn’t had a grocery truck in here for almost five weeks.”

He said the store didn’t have the money to buy groceries to restock the shelves.

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On Saturday, the store received a large truck full of groceries, and Urlage said people were buying items before they could even put them on the shelves. Thanks in part to the success of the rally, the store got another delivery of groceries Tuesday — and will get another the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

The goal now is to try to restock and get back on the upswing.

Urlage said that the store did about three times its normal Saturday business. Several people noted how busy the store was, with people flooding the store.

This could be what the store needs to “turn the corner,” Urlage said.

“We don’t feel like it’s just for us, it’s for everybody, our community are a part of us, they’re part of our family and that’s how we live,” he said.

The grocery store, the only full-service grocery in town, is 12 miles from Walmart and Kroger stores in Greenville and more than 18 miles away from grocery stores in Englewood and Troy. There is a Dollar General in the community.

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