Great American grocery store coming to Star Lake

This Adirondack hamlet won’t be without a full-scale grocery store for much longer.

L.K.R. Enterprises Inc., owned by the Lockwood family of Watertown, plans to open a Great American store in the former Padgett’s Hometown IGA on Route 3.

The corporation received approval this week for $300,000 in low-interest loans through a financing package provided jointly by the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency and the Development Authority of the North Country.

The funds will be used to purchase the existing store, equipment and inventory.

Randall “Randy” D. Lockwood said he is looking forward to expanding the family business by opening a third store to serve residents and tourists in southeastern St. Lawrence County.

The family operates Great American stores at 672 State St., Watertown, and in Boonville at 158 Main St. Both those stores opened 20 years ago.

“I’m truly excited,” Mr. Lockwood said. “We’re definitely up for the challenge and we can’t wait to be part of that community.”

He plans to hire between 12 and 15 employees and hopes to reopen the 7,500-square-foot store at the end of June in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Citing declining sales, the family-owned Padgett’s IGA store closed in late April after operating for more than six decades in Star Lake.

Since then, customers have had to travel about 35 miles to shop at the closest grocery store in Gouverneur and Tupper Lake. There are convenience stores in the area that sell milk, bread, eggs and other staples.

Mr. Lockwood said the Star Lake store will be a full-service grocery, with a full-time butcher, bakery and deli. Eventually, he said, building upgrades will be made, including new flooring.

He said the family strives to provide “old-fashioned” customer service and be part of the community by making donations to community organizations and fundraisers.

“We are very old school, an old-fashioned general-store grocer,” Mr. Lockwood said. “We excel at customer service.”

County IDA Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly said the financing package includes $50,000 from the IDA’s Local Development Corp. and $50,000 from the Greater Massena Economic Development Corp., which are both administered by his agency.

The rest of the funds are coming from DANC, which agreed to provide $100,000 through its North Country Economic Development Fund and $100,000 through the North Country Alliance.

Mr. Kelly and DANC Executive Director James W. Wright both said finding a new owner for the Star Lake grocery store was a priority for their agencies.

“I think it points to the importance of having a regional approach to economic development,” Mr. Wright said.

Mr. Kelly said having a full-service grocery store available in the Star Lake area was important for local residents as well as the tourism industry.

“For us, this was a priority,” he said. “We didn’t want to see a vacant, abandoned grocery store in the middle of Star Lake. People shouldn’t have to travel nearly an hour to buy groceries.”

Mr. Lockwood said the cooperation and assistance he received from DANC and the IDA played a major role in his decision to move forward with the purchase.

“They’ve been instrumental through this whole process,” he said.

By Susan Mende, Watertown Daily Times