Whitewater Sentry closing

53 layoffs expected

shutterstock_92894512Unable to compete with the Walmart Supercenter next door, Daniels’ Sentry Foods in Whitewater will close Dec. 16, eliminating 53 jobs.
Ken Riley, general manager, said the company has tried unsuccessfully for two and a half years to sell the 50,000-square-foot building at 1260 W. Main St., to another retailer. The building has been sold to an unnamed developer.
When Walmart, 1362 W. Main St., added 30,000-square-feet and began selling groceries four years ago, Sentry’s profits plummeted, Riley said.
“Whitewater’s population says 14,000 but that includes everyone on campus – and everyone leaves on the weekends and comes back with a car full of groceries from mom and dad,” Riley said.
The Sentry store was built by Fleming Companies, Inc., in 1997, which at the time was a major wholesaler. Fleming filed for bankruptcy in 2003. Sentry was purchased by Daniels Sentry of Whitewater, LLC, in 2002.
The Daniels company is based in Walworth and operates two stores in Janesville and one in Walworth, in addition to the Whitewater store.
Riley said the Whitewater employees cannot be relocated to another store because there is a union at the Janesville stores so positions cannot be filled by people who have less seniority. The Whitewater and Walworth stores do not have a union.
“It’s sad, I’ve been with the company since 1970, and I’m used to opening, not closing stores,” Riley said. “It makes it tough on individuals. We did our best to try to get a retailer in there, we tried to give low-lease rent and come up with a lot of scenarios, but no one wanted to give it a go.”

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