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August 28, 2013

Grocery store still closed after ceiling collapse

Costs to repair Hodson's Grocery in Converse unknown.

CONVERSE — A local grocery store that has operated in Converse since 1934 remains closed after half the ceiling collapsed in May, leaving most of the store in shambles.

Barb Kidd, who owns Hodson’s Grocery, 110 N. Jefferson St., with her three sisters, said the old tin roof that was installed when the building was first constructed in the 1890s fell in after support beams and a supporting wall had been removed decades ago to make the store more spacious.

The ceiling collapsed around midnight, she said, and no one was injured.

“When I saw the damage, I wanted to start bawling, because how were we going to fix it?” Kidd said. “We’re a small store, you know? We don’t just have money sitting around. It was kind of crazy. I still have pictures on my phone, and when I look at them I’m like, ‘Oh man.’”

To reopen, Kidd said they’ll need to install new support structures on the first and second floors of the building.

She said a structural engineer recently inspected the building and created a report that should give the store and its insurance company an idea of how much it will cost to repair.

The Hodson family owned the store from 1934 to 2006, when Kidd and her sisters purchased it to keep it from going out of business.

The grocery has four aisles of food, fresh produce, a meat cutter and other items. It’s the only grocery store in Converse, which has about 1,200 residents.

“Here in town, there’s no other place to get fresh produce,” Kidd said. “But we’re a dinosaur. We can’t compete with the big grocery chains. So maybe this is a refresher course about how important this store is to the community.”

She said she hopes the store will reopen by the end of the year or sooner, and noted the support from the community after the ceiling collapse has been “astounding.”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

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