For the second time in nine months, a family-owned supermarket in Lancaster County is being sold to Giant Food Stores.
Ferguson & Hassler announced Monday that it will close its store June 19 and sell the business to Giant for an undisclosed price.
Known by its nickname Fergie's, Ferguson & Hassler has operated in Quarryville since 1916. It's the oldest family owned supermarket based in the county.
The decision echoes the steps taken by Darrenkamp’s last September — the closing of its four stores and the sale of its flagship Willow Street location to Giant.
As Darrenkamp’s experienced, Ferguson & Hassler said the changing supermarket industry leaves little room for a small company like theirs.
“The existing economics in the grocery industry no longer support the operation of a family-owned, independent supermarket such as ours,” Ferguson & Hassler said in a statement.
“We have tried numerous avenues to be successful over the years with the single exception of opening our doors on Sunday. We feel it is to the credit of our exceptional employees that enabled us to withstand the changing market for as long as we did,” the company added.
Giant said the 100 TownsEdge Drive store, which opened in 1988 and was renovated six years ago, will be closed for about a week for remodeling. It will reopen as Giant’s 10th store in Lancaster County in late June.
Giant has signed a long-term lease for the space.
Ferguson & Hassler's 177 employees will be able to interview with Giant for jobs at the 65,000-square-foot store. Giant has yet to decide how many employees it will have there, a Giant spokeswoman said.
However, it will be open Sundays, she said, unlike Ferguson & Hassler. Store hours remain to be determined.
As a Giant, the location will offer curbside pickup and home delivery of orders placed online.
Ferguson & Hassler customers were disappointed by the news of the closing.
The family business has been the only supermarket in town since the Acme on Fourth Street closed in 1990.
“That’s sad,” said Susan Blevins. “I’m sad that the family businesses are having to disappear,” said Blevins, 73, who lives in nearby Nickel Mines and works as a tour director at the Amish Farm & House.
Dave Herr, 59, a retired banker from Quarryville who was picking up some groceries for his mother, said, “I’d rather see it stay Fergie’s but I understand the business side of it too.”
“I’m so sad,” said Janet Welch, 87, a retired accountant who lives in Quarryville and stops by the store three or four times a week.
Welch, who said she had heard the news at church from the mother of a store employee, said she will still shop at the store when it becomes a Giant. “I live in Quarryville, and it’s very convenient.”
“I think they’re going to lose the whole hometown business charm,” said Dave Keefer, a 70-year-old retired schoolteacher who lives just south of Quarryville.
Keefer said the closing will mean the loss of an institution that gives Quarryville its distinctiveness.
“You always thought of Fergie’s. You think of Quarryville, you think of Ferguson & Hassler’s. It just goes together,” he said.
Keefer said he hopes Giant keeps some of the store’s specialties, particularly the chicken salad which he called “to die for.”
Chris Brand, a Giant representative who was at the store Monday, said keeping store favorites will be seriously considered.
“We’re just as enthusiastic about the chicken salad as Fergie’s customers,” Brand said. “We’re known for listening to our customers but today being the first day, it’s too early to tell whether we’re going to be able to carry it.”
At the same time, long-established supermarket companies here including Giant, Weis Markets and Stauffers of Kissel Hill fortified their positions by broadening their selection and services.
The addition of two industry powerhouses and the strengthening of existing competitors make it even harder for small, independent stores with much shallower pockets to survive.
But Ferguson & Hassler put up an intense fight, most notably with a 2013 renovation and expansion that added gas pumps and a cafe, and enlarged its produce selection.
Store co-owner Chip Hassler, some of the fourth generation of the family to be involved in the business, declined to comment on impending shutdown.
In its statement, Ferguson & Hassler said it approached Giant about buying its business, explaining that “... we feel that they will provide the best overall transition path for our employees, as well as being familiar with Lancaster County and considerate of our loyal Quarryville community.”
Giant “has pledged to continue to support the key charitable events that our family has supported over the years,” the statement says.
The five-paragraph statement ends with a thank-you to Ferguson & Hassler’s employees and customers.
Handling the sale of the business and the lease of the space was Dwight Wagner of U.S. Commercial Realty.
The expansion of Giant’s footprint into Quarryville is among several recent moves here by the Carlisle-based chain.
Giant also has remodeled stores and converted an idled Lancaster city store into a distribution hub for its Giant Direct home-delivery service, among other steps.