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June 24, 2015

Marshall IGA will close after 57 years in business

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
The Marshall IGA, which opened in the summer of 1958, installed checkout scanners before the chain stores in Warrenton and in recent decades focused on hard-to-find items in addition to groceries.
He and his extended family must decide what to do with the 18,000-square-foot building and 1-1/2-acre site, Holder Trumbo says.
This could have been saved with millions of dollars worth of investment. But, the demographic hasn’t turned yet . . . . This is an old, tired store. I suspect there will be a market for a neighborhood grocery here again someday.
— Holder Trumbo, Marshall IGA owner
Marshall IGA
• What: Independent grocery

• Where: 8382 W Main St.

• Owners:
Holder and Heather Trumbo and his mother, Evelyn Trumbo.

• Founded: 1958 by the late Robert H. Trumbo Sr.

• Store: 18,000 square feet on 1.5 acres, owned by extended family

• Employees:

• Products: Deli, custom meat, groceries, household items, beer and wine

• Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

• Phone: 540-364-9588

• Facebook page: Click here

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
The Marshall IGA will cease operations at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1.

“It’s a pretty simple tale: The world’s changed,” said Holder Trumbo, who manages the family-owned, independent grocery his late father opened in the summer of 1958.

The 18,000-square-foot store has faced a host of challenges in recent years, but the May 5 closing of its pharmacy sealed the IGA’s fate, according to Mr. Trumbo.

“The pharmacy made us viable,” bringing in a steady flow of customers, he said. “After it closed, it became untenable . . . undoable.”

Government regulation and brutal terms that health insurance companies demanded for prescription payments led Mr. Trumbo and his family to sell northern Fauquier’s only pharmacy to CVS, he explained in April.

“Happily, we sold out when it was still worth something. But, we knew it wouldn’t be good for the IGA.”

It also has grown more difficult for “the little guy” to deal with suppliers of everything from potato chips to Hallmark cards, he said. “Wegmans gets a full shelf, we get a third of what we used to get.”

As longtime customers disappear, newcomers commute and shop at national chains.

“The good thing about northern Fauquier is there’s not much here,” said Mr. Trumbo, 51. “The bad thing about northern Fauquier is there’s not much here.”

Still, he sees a bright future for Marshall, with Main Street’s revitalization, new neighborhoods and new businesses coming in the next few years.

“This could have been saved with millions of dollars worth of investment,” the grocer said of the store in which he has worked since childhood. “But, the demographic hasn’t turned yet . . . . This is an old, tired store.

“I suspect there will be a market for a neighborhood grocery here again someday.”

Of the 12-employee business, he added: “It didn’t even have to make money. It could have lost a little bit, but not this much . . . . Before it was all gone, we decided to jump out.”

He and his wife Heather, who has worked at the IGA since they married more than 22 years ago, pored over the balance sheets for several weeks.

“We toyed with the idea of cutting the space in half and focusing on the items that really work,” he said. But, they determined “this is a business that’s run its course.”

Marshall historian Bob Sinclair expressed “a mixture of sadness and recognition of where we are in time.”

Mr. Sinclair called the pharmacy’s recent closing a major inconvenience, particularly for older citizens of northern Fauquier.

“I was completely taken aback when my daughter, who lives in the Orlean area, called and said the IGA is closing in August,” the retired educator added. “Since long before I was married, the IGA has been the focus of my grocery shopping.

“After the pharmacy’s closing, this is a double blow.”

Mr. Trumbo said he shares the “disappointment” that customers have expressed since word of the closing began to spread in the community last week. “That’s understandable. I’m disappointed, too. I like doing this.”

The business traces its roots to his grandfather, the late George Thomas “Tom” Trumbo, who started sweeping floors at the Sanitary Grocery Co., which got purchased by Safeway, where he rose to an executive position.

George Trumbo went out on his own with IGAs in Warrenton, Front Royal, Alexandria and Frederick, Md. But, he died suddenly at age 50.

His sons took over but eventually sold those stores.

A Midland native, Robert H. Trumbo Sr. then opened the Marshall grocery at West Main and Frost streets, in a small building that later housed the Western Auto. In 1971, Mr. Trumbo built a new, adjacent store on 1-1/2 acres. In 1983, he expanded the store to accommodate the pharmacy.

Business boomed for decades. Mr. Trumbo bought produce from local farmers and continued to innovate. His store adopted checkout scanners long before the chains in Warrenton. A deli and the pharmacy set the IGA apart from other stores. Customers lined up — as they still do — to buy its fried chicken.

Even the 1999 opening of Food Lion in Marshall had little immediate effect on business, Holder Trumbo said.

But, as the IGA customer base aged, things began to change, particularly in the last five years, he added.

Since he joined the business full-time after earning a bachelor’s degree in French and European history from Washington and Lee University in 1987, Holder Trumbo has increased the focus on organic and hard-to-find items, along with extensive beer and wine selections.

The family business has demanded long and unusual hours from the owners, but it also provided great flexibility to get away briefly in the middle of the week. Still, he and his wife never have taken a weeklong vacation.

“But, we’ve had a lot of fun,” Mr. Trumbo said. “I got to be in business with my family. We’ve had a lot of great employees . . . a lot of good memories.”

After closing in five weeks, he will focus on cleaning out the building and running for re-election as Scott District’s supervisor in what promises to be an intense campaign with challenger Maureen Riordan.

The building’s future remains uncertain, Mr. Trumbo said. Its ownership includes his cousins in the Ritchie family of southern Fauquier.

“I’m sad for your news,” Bev MacWelch said Tuesday afternoon as she walked by with a wire basket containing glass bottles of fresh milk — another specialty item. “But, I’m really sad for myself.”

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whatsonthenet · July 8, 2015 at 3:13 pm
The IGA was one of my time "machine retreats " ,like the neighborhood grocery stores of my youth, the only local place I knew where I could get a liverwurst and onion on rye. Will be sorely missed
Jordan83 · July 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm
As of 1 July 2015

Marshall, VA

Median Household Income $85,112
Average Household Income $117,039
Per Capita Income $45,583

Median Household Income + 1.86% (2015 - 2020)- predicted to grow**

If you check out Warrenton, VA you will find their numbers to be lower than Marshall, VA. All numbers>>Even the per capita income.

Jim Griffin · July 6, 2015 at 2:41 pm
Which upscale restaurant is moving in? Genuinely curious.

I know Whole Ox is taking the old post office, but that is a butcher shop. What looks like a restaurant -- Gone to Ground -- turns out to be an apartment complex, I hear.

Hopeful for Marshall, appreciative for the long-term efforts of Peter Schwartz, Holder Trumbo, Tom McMillen and others.
Jordan83 · July 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm
IGA 3 Year % Sales Growth was 1% (small percentage growth however there was still an increase in the bad economy)

Year 2012>> $2,264,822 2012 and increased 2014 to $2,292,000

Red Truck Bakery moving in as well as an upscale restaurant. I'm sure their marketeers know this is a viable place for shops and restaurants. I like what Tom McMillin has done and there are other investors in town that know Marshall is a sure thing. Peter Schwartz is sprucing this town up and I see nothing but growth and this is a great place to live and do business.

Also, look at Van Metre homes. Take a drive to Gums Springs (Loudoun) and see the beauty of Van Metre homes.
Jim Griffin · June 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm
Today's Post: "The European owners of grocery stores Giant, Stop & Shop and Food Lion said Wednesday they plan to combine, creating what would be one of the largest supermarket chains in the United States."

Jim Griffin · June 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm
Very sad to hear this, hopeful for the refurbishment of Marshall. Perhaps we are on the verge of it, but this is not a hopeful sign.

The welcome arrival of Tom McMillen and capital to turn around the real estate downtown is a good sign. Here's hoping it works. If not, Gone to Ground could be a double entendre.
Tell It Like It Is · June 24, 2015 at 1:33 pm


I grew up around Marshall as well and am sorry to see another little guy go down. I remember going in the IGA as child with mom.

People please support your local town small businesses that have made this county such a great place to live. Lets not loose another to big box.

Just to name a few I use regularly, Rankins Hardware, Frost Dinner, Tom Frost Firestone, Mclannahan's Camera, Gilliam's Lumber, Peebles and many, many other small local companies that can and will be happy to compete as hard as they can for your business if you give them half a chance.

If anyone else knows other long standing local small businesses that are standing the test of time against big box sprawl, please chime in so that the new folks can try them out as well. They may be pleasantly surprised.

The Marshall IGA and every small local business will be missed because when they are gone, it's too late to act!

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