ARCHIVED  November 6, 2001

Steele’s ends 60-year run

After more than 60 years serving Northern Colorado and nearly nine months operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Steele’s Markets will close all of its remaining stores by November 18.

In the past six months three Steele’s Markets were closed as part of the company’s reorganization efforts — one in downtown Fort Collins, one in Windsor and one in Fort Morgan.

After meeting with creditors in court on Monday, Steele’s owners closed the Harmony Road location in Fort Collins and determined that the two remaining grocery stores — one on West Drake Road in Fort Collins and the other in Niwot — will close after a brief period of inventory reduction sales.

“We met with the court and creditors yesterday to try to determine the best way to wind down the financial affairs of the company,” Steele’s lawyer Jim Ringenberg said. Ringenberg said that Steele’s president Russ Kates decided on October 25 that sales were not strong enough to make the reorganization plan work. “We contacted the creditors then as a matter of candor. We didn’t want to mislead anyone,” Ringenberg said. The Drake Road location will likely be taken over by Nash Finch Co., a national grocery supplier and major creditor in the bankruptcy suit. “Nash indicated in open court yesterday that within the next few days they would make the decision to open a new store there or not,” Ringenberg said. Nash operates about 1,000 stores under several names including Food-For-Less.

Harmony Market LLC, which owns the Steele’s building on Harmony Road said it will donate approximately $350,000 of remaining inventory to the Northern Colorado Food Distribution Center, Ringenberg said. “They’re trying to make the end result as helpful to the community as possible,” he said.

The generous donation suits the legacy of Steele’s, a family-run business known for its charitable contributions to the community.

When all six of the stores were open, nearly 10 percent of the 600 employees were people with special needs, Ringenberg said.

“They’ve always been a strong supporter of the food bank, the MS Society — every charity in town, really,´ said Everitt Cos. president Dave Everitt, a Fort Collins resident since 1953 and long-time friend of the Steele’s family.

“We’re losing an important thread in the tapestry of this community,” Everitt said. “Once that starts it makes things unravel. The fabric starts to fall apart …We’re all losers as a result.” Everitt said the closing of Steele’s reflects the national trend of large chains and conglomerates squeezing out independent retailers. “It’s a natural tendency to go where things are cheaper,” he said. “But in the end it might not be the best thing for the community.”

After more than 60 years serving Northern Colorado and nearly nine months operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Steele’s Markets will close all of its remaining stores by November 18.

In the past six months three Steele’s Markets were closed as part of the company’s reorganization efforts — one in downtown Fort Collins, one in Windsor and one in Fort Morgan.

After meeting with creditors in court on Monday, Steele’s owners closed the Harmony Road location in Fort Collins and determined that the two remaining grocery stores — one on West Drake Road in Fort Collins and the other in…

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