March 20, 2015 5:05 pm
Updated: March 20, 2015 5:11 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Hillsborough’s only grocery store closes, lays off 20 people

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HILLSBOROUGH, N.B. – The only grocery store in the village of Hillsborough has shut down after the building was damaged in last weekend’s storm.

Hillsborough ValuFoods has been in the community for three years and is the only grocery store for residents in Hillsborough, Riverside-Albert and Alma.

Structure damage to the roof has condemned the building and the grocery store will be closed indefinitely.

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Owner Terry Stafford told Global News he closed a bit early on Sunday because of the storm, and came back with his son Monday morning to find the roof damaged.

He contacted his landlord who contacted the insurance company. Engineers then confirmed that 31 out of 40 trusses holding up the roof had failed. They ordered the building be closed to the public. Additional wooden beams have been attached to the roof for support.

“It’s not easy. Three years of hard work and it’s just over in a heartbeat,” Stafford said.

“I actually opened this store and always figured this place would be here long after I’m gone.”

Stafford said it’s now a waiting game for the insurance company’s decision on whether the building can be repaired.

On Friday, the insurance company was doing inventory of everything in the store. Some items will be kept in storage, while anything perishable will be donated to the food banks in Moncton.

Everything that spoiled since the store closed Monday will be sent to the landfill.

ValuFoods was the second-biggest employer in Hillsborough after the school. Stafford was forced to lay-off all 20 of his employees, seven of whom worked full-time.

One employee, Eileen Fullerton, told Global News that she had planned to work at the store until she retired in three years.

“We put our heart and soul into this store every day,” she said.

“I came in early every day because I love my job. I really do. I don’t know what I’m going to do without it.”

Tracy Nixon called working at ValuFoods the best job she’s ever had and said she loved seeing her regular customers and speaking with them every day.

“They would just come in. Even if they didn’t anything that day,” she said. “They would just come in, have a cup of coffee, see what Terry was up to, see what shenanigans he was getting us into.”

Hillsborough Village Councllor Jeff Jonah told Global News the grocery store brought new life to the village when it opened three years ago.

“We have heard from families that always liked the idea of coming to Hillsborough. But the one thing we were missing was a grocery store,” he said.

He said the Village Council will be meeting with Stafford next week to see if there is anything they can do to help, but in the meantime everyone is hoping the insurance company will decide the building can be salvaged and the grocery store will be able to reopen.

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