County Market may open a Geneseo store

Lisa Depies

Geneseo could be home to a County Market grocery store in the near future. Quincy based Niemann Foods Inc. is “about a month away” from making a final decision  about a Geneseo store.

“We’re looking into coming to the community,”?said Gerry Kettler, director of consumer affairs for Niemann Foods. “Obviously, when looking at a new community, we look at demographics and competition.

“It’s important for a grocery store to know that they’ll be supported by the community,”?he said.

If Niemann Foods opens a County Market in Geneseo, Kettler said it would be in the Jewel store location.

Geneseo’s Jewel grocery store will close May 30. Company officials announced the store’s closing in late March.

Originally, fellow Geneseo grocery store, Aldi’s, had planned to close in August, but announced its intentions to remain in the community after learning of Jewel’s fate.

If County Market were to open in Geneseo, it would join Aldi’s and Fareway as grocery providers for the community.

“We’re hopeful we will get another grocery store, and, when we talked to the company, they seemed very positive,” said Geneseo Mayor Pat Eberhardt.

“The city needs to have its larger grocery store (building) filled,” said?Eberhardt. “There are a lot of benefits to having it filled aside from another place to shop for food. It provides lots of jobs, and we do receive a lot of sales tax from the store.”

In addition, because the city of Geneseo owns its own utilities, the electricity bill paid by the store directly benefits the city.

Niemann Foods is an employee-owned company with approximately 65 stores in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.

In addition to County Markets, the company has Cub Foods and Save-a-Lot stores.

Kettler said Niemann Foods has, in the past, brought its stores to communities which have lost a Jewel store. “We have gone through this process before,” he said.

Once the Geneseo community was brought to Niemann?Foods officials attention, Kettler said the company “decided to take a look to see if it will work.”

“There are a lot of things we need to look at before we make a final decision, but we should know in about a month.”

County Market is a full-service grocery store with bakery, produce and deli sections. Depending on the size of the store, some County Markets also have floral departments.

“We usually employ about 100 people,” he said.

Regionally, the closest County? Market stores owned by Niemann Foods are in Sterling and Monmouth.