Apple Market faces uncertain future
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
One of Pensacola's best-known businesses is struggling to stay open. Apple Market has survived hurricanes, floods, and economic downturns. But the owner said the opening of a Publix supermarket nearby has knocked them to the mat.
Apple Market is a small, family-owned grocery store; it's the kind of business that adds character and closeness to a community.
Dr. Liz Tringas is a local veterinarian whose first job was at Apple Market. Until Sunday, she didn't know it was struggling. She saw a Facebook post from the owner's daughter saying her parents were barely hanging on and hoping for a miracle.
Tringas said, "My gut feeling was 'what do we need to do as a community to try to make this right?'"
Owner David Apple said they are facing some large financial obligations that have been increasing over time.
He continued, "We want to be able to meet our obligations, we want to be able to pay people and be honorable in the community."
Apple said changes in the grocery business are squeezing them, but the chokehold is coming from the Publix that opened about a year ago a mile away. Apple Market started losing volume immediately.
Apple explained, "As it took off volume, it made us less able to reinvest capital back into inventory, which again takes off more volume, so it just kinda devolves."
Apple has laid off about a third of his staff, mostly part-time employees. On Facebook, his daughter said he sold his house to try and keep the store open.
Tringas, who credits her business skills to her first job at Apple Market, started a Go Fund Me account. She's trying to buy time for the business to recover and re-tool for the competitive environment.
David Apple didn't know his daughter was going to make the Facebook post, nor did he know Tringas was going to start the fundraiser, but he said at this point taking whatever help is offered is the right thing to do. He and his family are trusting that God has a plan, but they don't know the end of it right now.
Apple said, "We're hopeful that we can either see a turnaround or an ending that takes care of everything the right way."
He added, "Any time your viewers have an opportunity to support a local guy versus a chain, take the time to go the extra mile or two and support the local guy and spend the extra 10 bucks because it's good for the local economy."
Apple Market has been in business for 21 years.