An inconvenient loss: Jr. Food Stores closing saddens WKU community

Johnny Busch, a Louisville freshman, left, buys supplies with Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers, Justin Swails, a Clarksville, Tenn. sophomore, middle, and Nick Jacobs, a Jeffersonville, Ind. junior, right, for their spring rush at the Jr. Food Store on the corner of 13th and Center streets on Jan. 28. (Brian Powers/HERALD)

Kristina Burton

For years, Jr. Food Stores, commonly known among students as “Junior’s,” has been a convenient place for students to go when they’re in need of anything from bottled water to a phone charger for their car.

However, when Houchens Industries’ (the store’s distributor) lease for the building ends on July 31, the 1306 Center St. location will close.

Joey Tiberi, a Madisonville junior, said when he first came to campus, “Junior’s” was one of the first places he knew to buy products on-the-go. 

“Everyone I know that wanted to buy beer or cigarettes on-the-go, they went there because of its efficiency and how close it was to campus.”

“When I lived in McCormack, it was a 20 minute walk away. It was convenient,” Tiberi said.

Allie Newman, a Sanford sophomore, said she recalls a time when she went to Junior’s to buy water because she had run out in her room.

“I didn’t want to get into traffic on Nashville Road or Campbell Lane,” Newman said. “Going to Junior’s was easier because it was just off campus.”

Tiberi said he goes to the store, which he refers to as “The Box” because of its square shape, at least every other day.

“I’ve gone so much that I became friends with the people that work there,” Tiberi said. “They recognize my face and knew what I wanted as soon as I walked in.”

Zachary Henderson, a Louisville sophomore, said he goes to Junior’s at least once a day, sometimes two or three times.

“I think I got addicted to Kickstarts [a Mountain Dew drink] a little bit,” Henderson said. “It became a daily buy.”

Henderson said he would see people from the community there all the time.

“I’d see a bunch of people I hadn’t run into in a while,” Henderson said. 

Tiberi said the placement of the store is excellent because it’s so close to everything.

“I feel like they put that there strictly for college kids,” Tiberi said. “I’m disheartened that they’re closing it down, because now it’s going to take an arm and a leg to get everywhere.”

Henderson said he’s upset to see Junior’s leave.

“There is a Marathon about the same distance from where I live, but I went to Junior’s more for the people,” Henderson said. “I’ve been in there so much, I got to know them. They became like friends after a while.”

Newman said that although she doesn’t frequent Junior’s, she knows how convenient it is for people who live on campus.

“The fact that it’s being demolished makes it a lot harder for those people,” Newman said.

Tiberi said he feels that the people who work at Junior’s should get some sort of retribution.

“They’re losing their jobs and have to find somewhere else to go,” Tiberi said.

“Some that’s their side job and they don’t have that anymore. Some have to have that to make a living, or so they can afford college expenses. Granted, there are other places people can work, but the closeness and convenience of Junior’s made it less of a struggle.”

President Gary Ransdell said WKU is not affiliated with the purchase of the property in any way. The property was purchased by a construction company called Trittenbach, which is based in Columbia, Missouri.

Ransdell said Trittenbach has purchased both sides of Center St. for housing and retail space, and will implement “upscale student housing” in the gravel lot across from the food store.