WIDER AISLES should help the shopping experience according to store operators. Here, Ken Short with Diaz Foods helps display drinks.
Seven months after a tornado barreled through Cairo and seriously damaged Cairo IGA, the grocery store is set to reopen for business Friday. The store has undergone a complete overhaul, according to managers who say the twister took out part of a wall, the roof, most of the interior ceiling, frozen food cases, front doors and windows.
When the store opens its new doors Friday at 8 a.m., customers will see new floors, walls, ceiling, roof, interior LED lighting, frozen food cases and decor.
Chuck Hanks, operations supervisor for Bob & Jeff’s and Cairo IGA, which is owned by Bob & Jeff’s IGA, says milled Grady County trees were used as decorative accents inside the new facility. “It’s a memento to Grady County,” Hanks says.
Forced to rebuild, Hanks says they also redesigned, moving the rear wall back four-feet, making aisles wider, adding 21 doors of frozen food cases, and updating cash registers. “It’s a completely new store from top to bottom,” he says.
Despite being closed for seven months, Cairo IGA was able to keep its employees working at other grocery stores or even restaurants owned by Bob & Jeff’s, Hanks says. The company owns IGA stores in Thomasville, Dawson and Camilla, in addition to a restaurant in Thomasville and one in Tallahassee, Hanks says.
Some employees were on the job preparing to close Cairo IGA for the night when the EF2 tornado hit on Sunday, March 3. Hanks says when the store’s front doors were sucked open the wrong way, the manager on duty heard the winds outside. Suspecting a tornado, he rushed three customers and nine employees to safety in a cooler in the back of the store, seconds before the tornado slammed into the building. “Luckily, he pulled everybody to the back real quick,” Hanks says. “Everything shook and it was over with.”
Cairo IGA is located at 110 Second Ave., S.E., and will be open, beginning Friday, 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., seven days a week, Hanks says.