Anytime a business closes its doors, this community aches. But the people who shoulder that pain, first and foremost, are the former employees.

The people who worked to make Market Place and Joseph Family Foods a success are now faced with new challenges. Rather than stocking shelves and greeting customers Thursday morning, the laid-off Market Place employees met with WorkSource representatives to learn about their options, apply for unemployment and begin the search for a new job.

An emotional scene took place as former employees filed out of the store. They were hugging each other and some were crying, according to a reporter at the scene.

Currently, store officials have announced a 90-day closure for a “transition.” During that time, the owner of both the Market Place Family Foods in La Grande and Joseph Family Foods in Joseph, Troy Berglund, will likely file for
bankruptcy.

Ideally, the store would make this almighty transition it keeps touting. It would find the right vendors and provide the right products, making regular grocery trips more convenient for people who live on the west side of town. In the perfect world, the former employees — should any still be searching for jobs at the end of these three months — would be given the chance to return to a bustling, beautiful grocery store.

However, there is no guarantee the grocery store opens after the announced 90 days. In fact, there’s no guarantee the store re-opens at all.

This is a country grounded in capitalism. Businesses close, sometimes for good. There’s often not much else to do but accept it.

But for those of us who believe the grocery store has failed or that this market simply has no need for the shop, we must not forget the many people whose very livelihoods depended on the job they had there. We must realize that for the cashiers or the workers who prepared the bistro foods or the ones who designed user-friendly displays, this closure is nothing short of a tragedy.

To the men and women who were let go from Family Foods, we wish you the best of luck moving forward.

– Emily Adair contributed to this piece.

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