Craig Meeker resident Larry Beck, 65, walked into Robb's Grocery on Monday, as he had done many times before during the past seven years, only to discover his favored store was closing.
"This is terrible," Beck said. "We always make a point when we come to Craig to shop here. We were hoping they were relocating, not shutting down."
John Robb, owner of all seven Robb's Grocery locations, decided to shut down the Craig store at 473 Yampa Ave. and sell the building. The staff was told about two weeks ago, a couple of days after the building went on the market, said Tina Williams, manager for 14 years.
The property has a buyer, but the deal won't close until the store's inventory is sold, a Country Living Realty representative said.
Storeowners hope to have the entire inventory sold by Saturday.
On Monday, customers still patrolled the aisles while many of the shelves approached emptiness. Watching the last of the products go into shoppers' plastic carryout bags, many Robb's Grocery employees said it was sad to say goodbye.
"When you like your job, you like your job," said Lisa Hillewaert, 48, who has worked at Robb's for five months. "Now I have to go out and get another one."
It will be impossible to find anything comparable to working at Robb's, said Ashlee Flannery, 19, an on-and-off store employee since last year.
"There's not another job like this one," Flannery said. "There's not another boss like (Williams). If she opens another store, I'm there."
Some longtime customers echoed Flannery's feelings. It wasn't just the unique inventory - where customers could shop for clothes, canned goods, ceramic decorations and car parts all in the same trip - that kept them coming back, it was the people working there that made Robb's peerless.
"This is about the only downtown business (where) you can get personal service and they're nice to you," said Cathy Copeland, who shopped with her two sons. "If it wasn't for these girls, the store wouldn't be as popular."
Some other downtown buildings are on the market, as well. The building housing Serendipity Coffee Shop at 576 Yampa Ave. is on the market, and so is the location for the closing Sweetwater Trading Co. at 508 Yampa Ave.
There also are a few other buildings on the market, said Nadine Daszkiewicz, Kitchen Shop owner and Dowtown Business Association member. Local real estate offices could not confirm those locations.
Downtown locations on the market don't concern Daszkiewicz. The turnover is a healthy part of the process, she said.
"It just seems to cycle," Daszkiewicz said. "What does concern me is we don't have enough retail space."
Retail stores need to be in close proximity to each other to encourage foot traffic, Daszkiewicz added. It would be a negative for downtown to lose a retail front such as Robb's.
Copeland is most sorry to lose the girls working at Robb's, she said, but she intends to remain loyal to the end.
For nine years, Copeland stopped in at least once a week. She hopes to come back at least once before the store closes for good.
Williams told Copeland goodbye with a smile. She will miss the customers as much as anything else, she said.
"You build friendships with the customers, and you just get to know them," Williams said. "I want to thank all of them for 14 wonderful years of support."
Williams plans to take a break from the "working world" for a while. She expects to take some time helping her husband, Don, with their business, D'NT Electric.
Closing has been a difficult process for everyone Williams said, herself included.
"It's hard to leave something you've worked for, for a number of years," she said. "It's like my second home."
Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or firstname.lastname@example.org