Jekyll Island may lose only grocery store
The Brunswick News
By NIKKI WILEY
August 22, 2012
Jekyll Island residents and visitors could soon have to drive to the mainland to buy groceries.
After 40 years on the island, Marty Fender is considering selling his IGA Supermarket and retiring, if he can find a buyer.
"I am strongly contemplating (closing), but I haven't really made the final decision yet," Fender said.
He is looking for a buyer and says he doesn't want to leave the island without a grocery store until the planned Beach Village retail center is built.
The proposed new retail center, which will be constructed in phases, includes space for a grocery store, which now is housed in a temporary trailer on North Beachview Drive.
"I hate to do it. I feel so bad," Fender said about the possibility of closing his store.
Jones Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority that operates the island state park, says none of the spaces in the Beach Village has been leased yet.
While Fender is actively looking for a buyer, he is still discussing the issue with the authority to determine how to proceed.
If he were to close, it would likely be in September, he said.
"I'm hoping against hope that somebody will come forward," Fender said. "It's just time for me to get out. I'm old and my health isn't that good anymore. I just want to enjoy a little bit of life."
David Egan, Jekyll resident and cofounder of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, a group that challenged initial redevelopment plans for the island, says he thinks island residents would adjust to making the 40-mile round trip to the nearest mainland grocery store, but tourists may not be as forgiving.
"It's not just the residents," Egan said. "It's going to be those people who come in for a week and want to get their bread, milk and meat locally. My guess is there's going to be more blowback from guests than residents."
Jekyll Island's only pharmacy closed before the commercial district was relocated to temporary facilities on North Beachview Drive in 2010.