Sappington Landmark Closing Doors

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SAPPINGTON, MO (KTVI)-- An important landmark in the Sappington area is closing down after almost seven decades.  Johnny's Market is the victim of what some people call progress.   These days customers don't need a supermarket to purchase their groceries, they can buy them at the pharmacy, the gas station or a big box store.  Plus, there's been an explosion of fast food restaurants.  All those places steal customers from mom and pop businesses like Johnny's.

Debbie Loeffelman, 61, owns the store.  She said, "Everytime I see a different customer it`s sad my customers are crying."  She's been in the grocery business since the day she was born.  Her family lived above the store when she was a baby.  The business is in her blood, "It`s not a job it`s what I do it`s my life."

Her mother and father, Johnny and Adel Loeffelman opened the store in 1944.  Over the years there have been improvements and additions to the building located at Gravois and Sappington.  It's become more than a structure it's a special like a much loved family member or a close friend.  Loeffelman said, "People would come in and see their neighbor and they would talk, the story was you can`t run into Johnny`s in and out quickly not because you don`t want to but because you see this one and see that one and you talk and it was just gathering place and it still is there`s just not as many of those people anymore."

She's close the store October 13th and customers like Jim Ramsey are beside themselves, "It`s almost like a death in the family, it`s unbelievable."   

Folks cannot say enough good things about Debbie and her late parents.  Judy Ramsey is a former employee, "They always had great heart they care about their customers they cared about their employees."  

Jim Ramsey added, "When old time customers die she goes to every funeral sends cards, the whole thing."

Debbie Loefelman has touched people's lives and they have touched her heart.  She said, "I`ll miss the people I work with I`ll miss my customers."

The property will go up for sale, everything will be auctioned off including the old sign out front.  Loeffelman doubts another store will move in because the building needs too much work.  Some of the 40 employees are being recruited by other supermarkets.  Debbie plans to do more charity work when the store closes, she said she likes to be around people.

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