Charlie's Market closing its doors
By Sarah Einselen
An east side fixture will be closing its doors within the month. Charlie’s Market grocery store is liquidating and its owners, the Kline family, expect to finish the process in about three weeks.
The grocery recently switched suppliers, hoping that promises of lower prices would please customers. For about a month at the end of this summer, Charlie’s rearranged the grocery section, cutting off access for the duration and losing some customers because of the inaccessibility, said Carol Kline, co-owner with husband Roy Kline of the grocery.“We went with another company because they said they were going to do that for us,” Carol said of the switch. “And it didn’t turn out that way.” Most prices didn’t get any cheaper and the store did not regain the business it had lost during the switchover, she said. Rather than shut down that part again for a month to go back to the original supplier, the Klines decided to close permanently.
“We can’t afford to make another change,” Carol said.
The switchover capped a period of economic trouble for the business.
“It’s been good up until the last three years,” said Roy. “And I think it’s because people are moving out of town because the electric’s so high.” He said the electric bill took its toll on the grocery itself, too. He tried to save money on the utilities by shutting off one of the freezers and removing several pop refrigerators and vending machines, but the changes made $50 difference in the bill, which averaged between $5–6,000.
Then the Klines informed grocery store brokers starting about a year ago that they would sell the store to someone interested in keeping the grocery open. Any interest that they received faded after they said what the price of electric was, Carol said.
Charlie’s Market was opened by Roy’s father, Charlie Kline, in 1974, when he rented a building on Parson Street for a grocery store. The grocery occupied various Galion locations until landing at the corner of Harding Way and Gelsanliter Road between 1983 and 1984. Then Roy and Carol took over the business after Charlie decided to retire.
“I’ve really liked it,” Carol said. “I enjoy working with people. I can’t think of too many bad things.” Her daughter, Wendy Fout, reminded her of the difficulties and stress that come with owning one’s own business, like not having had a vacation in years. But overall, “it’s been a good business for us,” Carol said. “We’ll miss all the people.”
Carol has worked in the grocery business ever since graduating from high school. She started working for Charlie’s Market after Great Scott went out of business in the 1980s and saw two of her daughters join the business when they got old enough. The daughters will have jobs elsewhere, as will most of the employees, but a few are still looking for employment.