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Leon's Thriftway closes Saturday, owner hopes to revive soon

Posted at 7:37 PM, May 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-04 23:34:02-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For more than a half-century, Leon's Thriftway was a staple on 39th Street in Kansas City, Missouri. But the owners were preparing Saturday to close the grocery store's doors possibly for good.

The owner's son, Vernon Stapleton, said they couldn't keep up with the changing times and the increased competition.

"We've been surrounded by newer stores," Vernon said. "They are answering the trends of the grocery business. We haven't."

Long-time customers at Leon's Thriftway, came out Saturday for one final stroll through the store.

"Just came to say good bye," shopper Chris Spencer said.

For Spencer it was an emotional goodbye.

"Leon's been good to us in the neighborhood, gave a lot of kids opportunity to start their first jobs," he said.

Spencer would know. Leon's Thriftway gave him such an opportunity when he was a teenager.

"Sacking groceries, bringing the groceries out for the elderly — what you supposed to do," Spencer said. "Sometimes you got a tip; sometimes you didn't."

Many of the aisles were looking empty as the owners prepared to close, but Vernon urged customers not to be too down. The lights may turn back on soon.

"Stay tuned — more good things are coming," Vernon said, "Given a chance again, we won't let this happen to us again. We'll try to get it right this time."

The store officially was scheduled to close at 9 p.m. on Saturday.