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Hometown Foods put up for sale by owners

August 15, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Traer's only grocery store, Hometown Foods, is up for sale by owners Lyndon and Joani Johnson along with their four other locations as the couple hopes to spend more time with loved ones.

"Joani and I have decided to offer our Hometown Foods grocery stores for sale this year," Lyndon Johnson posted on the Hometown Foods Facebook page. "We are hopeful to find qualified buyers for each location in order to have a seamless continuation of the business. We are working with several interested parties in order to make this happen. We do not currently have any plans to close any location, and will continue to operate them as we have the last couple decades."

The decision to sell their stores came amid health concerns with Joani and with family members aging. Both wished to spend more time with family after Joani's father passed away recently. Discussions with store managers began in January of this year, followed by an announcement in March. The decision remained a secret from the general public until Johnson's Facebook announcement was posted on Friday, August 9.

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"It was kept relatively quiet because we didn't necessarily advertise," Johnson said. "We went public to see what interest there is out there. We're going through the process right now, so to speak."

Hometown Foods was founded in 1996 by the Johnsons with their first store in Conrad. The chain would soon operate stores in Hubbard, State Center, Gladbrook and eventually Traer in 2012 from Jeff Walters. A location in Waterloo was bought out in May of this year by the store manager.

"I had been working in grocery stores for years before from checker to store management," Johnson said. "I was an assistant store manager beginning in 1983 to when I left them in 1996. I had the experience and wanted to continue."

Johnson stated the decision to sell the stores was not a financial or performance issue, believing it's been a misconception in the communities. No signed agreement has been made for the Traer store, but Johnston stated an individual has come forward with an interest in purchasing the store.

"I want these stores to continue because they are very viable," Johnson said. "They have all performed well and consistently. Not all stores are like that. We have a less-experience staff in Traer, but I don't see any reason it would cease to operate."

Hometown Foods in Traer will continue to be owned by the Johnsons until the buyer takes over. Day-to-day operations are not planned to change until a purchase is made.

"All five communities have been very supportive of us and we hope we've reciprocated to the towns over the years," Johnson said. "We do as much as we can for local events, like Winding Stairs Fest, because we want to be number one in terms of being local. We've donated to several causes and I feel like customers know we care about Traer."

This is a developing story and the Traer Star-Clipper will have updates as they are made available.



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