CERES -- The last Richland Market in the Central Valley will shut down next month.
Richland Markets owner Nick Pallios confirmed Friday that the Ceres store on Whitmore Avenue will close mid-October, marking the end of the grocery chain the Pallios family started 61 years ago.
Pallios said the area's poor economy led to the closure.
"It was a very difficult decision," Pallios said. "But the economic conditions and competition and everything that is happening in the area was too much."
The store has 35 employees. Pallios said the company is in the process of selling off its inventory. Depending on how quickly that goes, the store will shutter Oct. 17 or 18.
Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra said he spoke with Pallios on Friday afternoon about the closure. Vierra said the Pallios family still owns the building and shopping center and has found another party to rent the space.
"(Richland Market) has been an iconic store in our city and within the last year we have had both Raley's and Richland close down, but fortunately we had Rancho San Miguel move in and I am hopeful we will find other business to move to Ceres," Vierra said.
Richland Markets was started in 1951 by brothers Gus, John and George Pallios in Ceres. At its peak, the chain had seven stores across the area, including in Modesto, Oakdale and Turlock.
In 2005, the company began downsizing. In 2008, the two other remaining locations, both in Modesto, were sold to Cost Less Food Co.
In a statement about the store's closure, Pallios called it a "respectful retirement" and on behalf of his family thanked "loyal customers, vendors, employees and friends they have had the pleasure of serving for the past 61 years."
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284.