ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- It is the end of an era. Despite a massive outcry and after nearly 60 years in the Rockford community what started as a small neighborhood grocery store is now closed.
The Schnucks store on Rural Street and the one on South Alpine closed for the final time at 5pm on Saturday.
The grocery chain announced earlier this month the stores weren't making enough money and would shut down. There was a huge outcry over the closure of the Rural Street location and even on Saturday dozens gathered outside in protest.
In that group was Fran Knutson whose family owned the original Hilander store when it opened 57 years ago. Knutson says she can't believe the neighborhood shop is now gone.
"It's a sad day for the Rockford community. I was one of the ones when I came home from college fell in love with the grocery store business and I got to manage this store so these are all our friends and have been good to all of us and we feel bad that this is happened," Knutson said.
Rockford aldermen have been in talks with Schnucks to make sure the company does not force a new buyer to sign a no-compete clause and make it so another grocery store couldn't possibly fill the space; however there has been no agreement on that. Aldermen do say that Schnucks plans to keep their sign at the Rural Oaks store for now and has a security plan in place for the empty building.
The Schnucks on South Alpine had been around for 35 years.