Shoppers love having choices.

I can't tell you how bummed I was when Reese and Ray's IGA closed. The long-time Laurel grocer was the only option for local shoppers for decades until Walmart came to town. At that time, many predicted the box store would quickly put the smaller store out of business. That was not the case.

Reese and Ray's IGA continued to thrive after Walmart showed up.

The owners spent substantial money on updates, including roof repairs and a fresh facade. Customers (including me) loved the store for many reasons, including its deli items and fried chicken, fresher produce, an awesome meat department, and perhaps most missed... the IGA donut shop. Yes, I usually shopped at Walmart for things like cereal and laundry soap, but I stopped just as often at IGA for other items. I loved the staff too; many had been there for years.

Michael Foth, TSM
Michael Foth, TSM
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It's been vacant for a while.

The store closing was sad, honestly. The retiring owners gave employees plenty of notice before the store got emptier and emptier during a few weeks of escalating "Everything Must Go" discounts. The store closed in May of 2022 and a few months later all fixtures were sold at auction. It was a sad day in Laurel. Who knew that a person could become so attached to a grocery store?

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Michael Foth, TSM
Michael Foth, TSM
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Coming soon!

Last week, locals were buzzing after a mobile construction shack showed up on the edge of the former IGA parking lot. An "Albertsons Coming Soon!" banner is tacked on the back of the portable building. Langles and Associates are the General Contractors on the project. When I reached out to Albertsons back in May 2022 regarding their plans for the site, they wrote,

This store will be converted to an Albertsons location during the upcoming remodel project and will be stocked to meet the needs of the neighborhoods around it. Albertsons HR team members met with current Reese & Ray’s IGA associates to discuss employment opportunities available at the new Laurel store, as well as at other Albertsons and Safeway stores in the surrounding area.

If I had to speculate when the former Reese and Ray's IGA will reopen as Albertsons, I would guess late summer at the earliest, early fall more likely. Then again, my knowledge of how long it takes to remodel a grocery store is basically zero, so take my estimate with a grain of salt. I'd love to see them open before summer. Albertsons newest Billings area store is slated to open on the far West End next month.

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