Randy Disney smiles down at every customer who walks in the doors. The close-up photo that hangs above the shelves can’t be missed. But that photo will be carefully packed away, along with other store items, with the Aug. 31 closing of the Grocery Discount Center (GDC) on Road 426.
“Now that we don’t have Randy here anymore, it’s time to let go. He was really the face of the Grocery Discount Center, and this was his baby,” wife Anita said.
The Disneys have owned the business since 2008, and last year slowly began the switch from the selling of food items to general merchandise.
“The customers have loved the change,” Disney said, “ and they’ve been begging us to stay open. But I want to semi-retire, to simplify and it’s time for me to let go. I feel sad for our customers, for the employees, and for myself. This business is a good thing for the Mountain Area, and I’d like to see the business stay.”
She said she would welcome someone taking over the business - someone with more energy than she has. Disney is still grieving over the loss of Randy, who died in Nov. 2014, and has been thankful to have had a place to go to everyday.
Customer Jane Minier has been a daily shopper at GDC ever since they opened.
“I come here to get out of the house,” Minier said, “and I always end up buying something for my grandchildren or great grandchildren.”
Her gaze then ran up the wall to Randy’s photo. “Every time I look at Randy, I just want to cry. He was a sweet, sweet man.”
Another regular, Maria Vizmeg, said, “It’s really sad to see it close. These people are like family to me. I miss them already. I’ve been praying that they don’t close.”
“This has been more like a ministry for me,” two-year employee Debra Burnett explained. “I have watched them feed the poor, pray for the hurting ... it’s like a family here ... we pray together to start our days.
Brenda Shumway, who has been an employee for six years, echoed Burnett’s thoughts.
“It’s been wonderful serving this mountain community,” Disney added. “I thank you all for your love and support. We’ve been through a lot together. After Randy’s death, I tried to carry on for as long as I could, but you come to a point where you need to move on. I hope GDC is remembered as a place people could come to get a hug, or hear an encouraging word.”
Disney plans to continue working part-time in their warehouse business in Fresno. What doesn’t sell at GDC, prior to closing, will be taken there. The business has already downsized from 11 employees to four.