Gordy's Market closing Chippewa Falls store

The Prairie View Drive Gordy’s Market location, part of the Chippewa Commons area, closed on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

SARAH SEIFERT, The Herald

Troubled grocer Gordy’s Market, which has stores from Rice Lake to La Crosse, announced Wednesday it will be laying off 1,008 workers by Oct. 28, unless it can find suitable buyer or buyers for Gordy’s stores.

“Please be aware that business circumstances may change and that all employees may not be permanently laid off if the Gordy’s entities are purchased and remain operational. It is impossible for us to determine at present which employees may be affected, if any,” said a letter sent to employees dated Tuesday by Michael S. Polsky.

Polsky was appointed last week as a receiver for Gordy’s, in charge of a financial restructuring of the company.

He continued: “If the Gordy’s entities are ultimately closed, or if the buyers do not hire any of the Gordy’s employees, we expect it to result in the permanent elimination of all 1,008 employees. This includes both union and non-union employees.”

“We regret having to make the decision; however business and industry circumstances leave us no alternative,” he wrote.

The layoff notice was disclosed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. The layoff, if it takes place, will dwarf any other in the state in 2017. The largest previously announced layoff was made in April, when Gander Mountain announced it would lay off 371 workers.

According to the notice, the layoffs would be in the cities of Arcadia, Augusta, Barron, Black River Falls, Chetek, Chippewa Falls, Cornell, Eau Claire, Galesville, Hayward, La Crosse, Ladysmith, Neillsville, Rice Lake, Richland Center, Shell Lake, Spencer, Stanley, Tomah and Whitehall.

Some of the layoffs have already occurred. Gordy’s closed its southside Chippewa Falls location along with its Stanley facility and several other locations, including Hayward and Tomah. It is selling two stores in Eau Claire to Festival Foods and is closing a third location on East Hamilton Avenue.

Last week the grocer was sued in Chippewa County Court by its Michigan-based supplier, Nash Finch, which says it is owed $86 million by Gordy’s.

Gordy’s home office at its Lake Wissota location in Chippewa Falls had no comment about the notice from Polsky.

Small-town grocers Hansen’s IGA, which has a store in Stanley, and Randy’s Neighborhood Market may be looking to fill the gap left by cash-strapped Gordy’s Market.

Public notices indicate Heather Heineman, general manager for Gordy’s Galesville location, filed for a liquor license on behalf of Arcadia Food Bank Inc. and Galesville Food Bank Inc. both for the purposes of a Randy’s Neighborhood Market, headquartered in Iowa.

The same week, Shawn Christiansen, general manager of Gordy’s Black River Falls location, applied for a liquor license on behalf of Hansen’s IGA, headquartered Bangor.

Heineman declined to comment. Christiansen could not be reached.

Hansen’s IGA launched its most northerly branch in Stanley in May 2015 and has locations in Neillsville and Mondovi.

Nick Hansen, co-owner of Hansen’s IGA, declined to comment on acquisitions.

Tobias Mann of Lee Newspapers contributed to this report.

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