Area residents are getting ready for the closing of a store that's been a good neighbor.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A cold wind swirled pieces of paper, dirt and other light debris across the Lincoln Knolls Plaza parking lot, prompting the shoppers who could to hurry from the warmth of the grocery to their cars.
Those who couldn't increase their pace turned their faces downward, pulled up their shoulders and did the best they could to keep going.
Change was obviously in the air.
So as the weather threatened to change from cloudy to wet, the strip center that houses Santisi's IGA Supercenter prepared for life that come spring, will be without the grocery that has anchored the shopping area.
The manager of a small store in the plaza, who would discuss the situation only if his name and employer were not identified, said the closing has given other business owners pause.
"You wonder what will happen in the long run for everyone else," he said.
"You hope that someone will move in and things will go on. You don't know. It's too early to tell. You just go on."
But he agreed that there will be an impact.
"The first thing we'll notice is that everyone who works here won't be able to run over there for milk and things before going home after work," he said.
John Santisi, president of Phoenix Supermarkets Inc., last week announced that the store, at 2980 McCartney Road, will close in late winter or early spring because of lagging sales and the expansive competition from chain supermarkets.
The company's Austintown store will remain open, Santisi said.
The grocery's Lincoln Knolls employees will be offered jobs at the other store based on their union contract.
IGA shopper LaDonna Williams said she'll miss the convenience of shopping at the grocery.
"It's the closest market ... easy for me to get to," she said.
Tonya Ramsey, who has lived about a half mile from the store for 39 years, said the imminent closure saddened her.
"It's a bad sign for everyone here," she said after leaving the store with a half dozen bags of groceries.
"It's not the way to start the new year, that's for sure."
Many people exiting the store were unaware of the upcoming closure. Others said the closing will impact more than their ability to buy groceries close to home.
The store often was the site of medical screenings and other events that were important for its East Side neighbors.
"Store's been good to folks for years," Ernest Copeland said. "Been right neighborly, they have."
But the store is leaving, and there's little the neighbors can do but pull up their shoulders and face the winds of change.
"We'll get by somehow," Copeland said. "Always have, always will."