MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Easy Way, a longtime Memphis grocery store known for its fresh produce and bright-orange buildings, has closed its last location.
A note on the door of the East Memphis location near Eastgate told customers about the decision to shut down and thanked them for their loyalty.
"I'm sorry. I am not really surprised though," said Jo Kroner, who came by to grab some fruit to start her day and found a cleared-out space instead. "I've been surprised that they hung on as long as they did."
The first Easy Way store opened in the Memphis area way back in 1932. Over the years, the business grew to a chain of seven stores.
But in recent years, increased competition led to Easy Way's gradual decline.
"For the number of years they were in business they had a good run," said customer Jayne Zinn.
Zinn says she shopped at Easy Way at least once a week and says — even when she saw it was dark inside — she still had hope for the local chain.
"I thought maybe they are moving to another location but apparently they are all out of business."
The end for Easy Way began with a tragedy four years ago. In 2014, David Carter, the man who ran the stores, took his own life.
Longtime customers say things were never the same after that.
"I'm sorry that it's closed but everything else has a season. ... The local ma and pop stores are leaving," Zinn said.
There's still a sign on the front of the store that reads "locally owned" and many people say they are sad to see the small business close its doors.
"I don`t know what they are going to put here but this is prime real estate," Zinn said.
She says she'll miss seeing oranges out front and picking up what she believes to be the freshest produce in the city.
But Zinn looks forward to seeing who calls the building home next.