Grocery store fire devastates Delavan residents

By Denise Jackson

January 27, 2014 Updated Jan 27, 2014 at 9:00 PM CDT

DELAVAN, Ill. -- Grocery stores, like schools, become a staple in communities. Losing them can be a shock. That is what Delavan residents are feeling after a weekend fire destroyed their only grocery store.

For many people in the small city of about 1,600, the grocery store became a regular meeting place.

"Some of the folks, you know, that was where they went that day," said resident Debbie Burt. "They come to the store to get bananas and visit. There was a lot of visiting and just seeing how people are."

Burt worked as a part time cashier at Delavan Finer Foods for more than six years. Burt, like many folks, was devastated by a fire early Sunday morning.

"Well it's the only place in town to get groceries," said resident Jerry Wolfe. "Obviously I don't like to have to drive to Pekin."

"It's gonna change the dynamics of the town," said resident Kim Alexander. "I'm a fifth generation farmer. I live south of town so the community is important to us here and we're gonna miss the corner."

In the meantime, nearby retailer Dollar General could pick up some of the slack but it doesn't sell meat and produce.

"They stepped in a couple of years ago when they were needed and really was a help to the community," Burt said.

Burt said the grocery store owner, who lives out of town, plans to rebuild. For now residents will have to find another gathering location.

Fire Investigators are still working to determine the cause of blaze.

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