ELYRIA — Three years ago, Sam Spicer tried to walk away from running the convenience store started by his late father, but time and circumstances have pulled him back into the business.
“Yes, I’m back,” Spicer said Tuesday. “I tried to sell it and the sale did not work out, so I’m here.”
It was April 2010 when Spicer announced he was selling the Convenient Food Mart on East River Street, the anchor of Spicer Plaza. The decision came about because Spicer wanted to spend more time with his family and was offered a position with the Lorain County Juvenile Detention Home.
However, the contracted sale of the business fell through after the buyer failed to make timely payments, and Spicer said the business reverted back to him. The failed sale affected Spicer’s finances and the plaza fell into foreclosure.
“I got it postponed and hope to sell the plaza soon,” Spicer said. “The bottom line is, the building has to be sold as soon as possible. I will continue to run it in the meantime.”
Walking back in the door on Oct. 1 — the first day Spicer said he resumed control of the business — was not easy. A lot has changed in three years.
“I would say business is half of what I used to do,” he said. “I was there for 20 years and sales (Monday) were the worst I have seen in all my years. We’ve lost customers, and once you lose a customer it’s so hard to get them back. But I’m going to do everything I can to try. I still see a lot of potential in the place.”
Some would say running the store is in Spicer’s blood.
He bought the business more than 15 years ago from his mother, Sue Spicer, who started it in 1969 with her husband, James.
For years before taking over the business, the younger Spicer worked with his parents at the store. His role at the store grew when he stepped up to help his mother while his father battled a terminal illness. James Spicer died in 1994.
“At the end of the day, I can’t just let it go. I can’t do that,” Spicer said. “I want to still see it thrive as a business in the community, even if I’m not there. I’m thinking I will put a manager in place to run the day-to-day, and we will see how it goes.”
The community seems to be ready to welcome Spicer back. The Eastern Heights West Block Watch is planning a “cash mob” in honor of his return starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.
As block watch coordinator, Deb Brady put it, “We are doing this to welcome Sam Spicer back to the neighborhood … It has had a few owners (in recent years), and the neighborhood is glad he is back.”