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05.12.07 -- REPORT: McIntosh Grocery Store to close last of May

By CHER PHILLIPS

The McIntosh Grocery Store will close its doors May 30 due to a rent hike of almost 50 percent.

The store's owner of six years, Mack Burris, will be forced to close his business because he and the building's owner, Fred Wilson, can not come to an agreement on a rent hike.

Burris, who is known as "Mack" to the residents of McIntosh, Boardman and other neighboring towns, said the raise in rent would have increased his rent $700 plus tax, coming to $742 extra a month beyond what he'd already been paying.

In a phone interview Saturday, property owner Fred Wilson would not confirm the amount he wanted to raise the rent.

"Mack can stay as long as he wants on a month-to-month basis," Wilson said.

He said that Mack's 7-year lease was up, but Wilson would not confirm how much he would be expecting in rent from the business owner if he did stay month-to-month.

"That's just where we're at," Wilson said. "If he wants to say, he'll stay."

However, Mack explained that the costs of staying mounted against him.

He said his electricity goes up anywhere from $800 to $1,000 a month during the warmer months, especially after the 2004 hurricanes and the rising gas prices. He said he just can't afford the amount his landlord was asking.

Mack said he attempted to negotiate with Wilson in April, but he said Wilson wouldn't bend.

"He and I couldn't come to an agreement on the lease," Mack said. "It upset me. We wanted to stay."

Wilson said that he would have liked to negotiate a price, too. He said he doesn't have plans to move another tenant in, despite rumors circulating around town that some Indian renters may be leasing the town's only grocery from Wilson next.

Mack said he and his wife determined in April if a more reasonable rental rate couldn't be negotiated, they would have to close their doors or face bankruptcy.

He said he has been a **conscientious** tenant over the six years he's rented the grocery in McIntosh.

"I've never missed a month's rent or bounced a check," Mack said.

Mack has also been financially responsible for all the repairs and upkeep on the building, including fixing the doors.

"The only thing he had to fix was the roof after the hurricanes," Mack said.

Mack has worked in restaurants all his life, working in a grocery for the first time when he was a teen.

He said he opened the McIntosh Grocery store because it was something he always wanted to do. The store is open every day, including all holidays except Christmas.

Although, Mac only just started closing the store on Christmas Day in 2006.

"Mack works the holidays himself so we can be home with our families," McIntosh Grocery Store employee Lori Digaicomo said.

Mack, like his three employees who face losing their jobs when the store closes, doesn't know what he'll do next.

He said the thing he enjoyed most and would miss about McIntosh are its people.

When asked what the people of McIntosh could do to help him through closing his store, Mack said, "Buy everything."

He said his lease ends on June 1 and he will have to be out. Since he is not selling his business, he will need to sell his stock and expects to have a sale later in May.

** CORRECTION: The correct word here was conscientious and not contentious. Thanks to Susan C. for the head's up on this. I am sorry for any confusion this might have caused.

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posted by Cher @ 1:16 PM,

5 Comments:

At   May 15, 2007 5:52 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

What a pity to lose another business in our community, first the gas station and now the grocery. Mack, you and your grocery will be very missed.

 
At   May 26, 2007 8:46 AM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

I won't miss the grocery store the cooler weren't cold enough for me.Got milk from there twice and both times went bad in two days. It would be nice to have a grocery store .One that is stocked and taken care of like the original McIntosh Store when it first opened in the early 90's. Linda Lanfair

 
At   May 26, 2007 8:23 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

Hi Linda,
I don't think we've met.

I remember going to that store in the early 90's when I visited family in McIntosh. I also remember the store when I first moved here in the late 90's when the previous business owners ran it. McIntosh Grocery wasn't a nice place to shop when I lived here until Mack started running it.

Since Mack's been running the current store, I think it's much nicer than it was before. There's been a greater variety of selection. When I saw he was selling down stock, it actually reminded me of the previous owners on a normal day.

Another thing I remember about the McIntosh Grocery Store is that those coolers were there then and now. They are part of the building, aren't they? I imagine that was a difficult position for Mack to be in as a business owner but not the landlord. I remember him having them worked on over the years. When I talked to him for this story, he said the only repairs the landlord paid were for the roof after the hurricanes.

If you think about it from an business owner's perspective ... if the rent on that building could skyrocket, who would be willing to invest money in new cooling units?

Personally, I think Mack did the best he could with what he could get in McIntosh, and I will miss him and the store. I bought half-n-half there alot and never had problems with it. I do hope you talked to Mack about any customer issues you had with this business.

-C

 
At   May 28, 2007 10:05 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

im sorry to see mack go....you could coont on this gentleman and he stocked or would get tiems for you.. we are gonna miss you mack. bill glass

 
At   June 01, 2007 12:49 AM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

I miss the store and Mack, too. I drove up today to find a "closed" sign... and it was all dark inside. I fear that we may never see the likes of him pass this way again...

 

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Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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