One of the last corner groceries in West Bend is closing as Pat’s Jiffy Stop, 111 E. Decorah Road, shuts its doors.
“I gave December 1 as notice but I think Nov. 18 is going to be my last day,” said Pat LaBuda, president of Pat’s Jiffy Stop Inc.
The store on Decorah Road and Indiana Avenue has been part of the fabric of the community in West Bend since 1982. “I remember WBKV Radio used to be across the street on the top of the hill,” said LaBuda. “On Indiana was Serigraph and then Serigraph used to be next door too but that changed over the years with Flock Graphics and then Best Embroidery.”
When Jiffy Stop started there were four gas pumps. In 2011 property owner Jacobus Energy Inc. shut down the pumps rather than pay an expensive upgrade required by new federal regulations.
LaBuda took a kick in the shorts financially. “I lost revenue right off the bat,’ she said. But LaBuda regrouped and added more food selections and she was granted a liquor license.
Over the past few years LaBuda found herself the key outlet to the community with neighbors coming in for food and drink from Arbor Trace and the West Bend High Schools. When Walgreens closed on Decorah and Main she became even more of a necerssity as the nearest store with grocery items was Pick n’ Save south or Piggly Wiggly.
“A lot of my customers walk,” said LaBuda. “They don’t drive…. So now they’ll have to walk to Pick n’ Save.”
Looking to retire at age 66, LaBuda made plans last year to lease the store however Jacobus stepped in and nixed the deal.
“Well then I decided not to retire,” she said defiantly. “What was nice was my employees kept their jobs and the neighborhood kept the store and I didn’t have to put a going-out-of-business sale.”
Now, a year later, LaBuda said it’s too much and she’s realized the only way to retire is to close the store.
“This is very difficult,” she said. “But I have health issues and I want to enjoy the last years of my life and the only way to do that is retire and close the store.
“I know the neighborhood is upset; as they find out they’re really upset and I don’t blame them.”
LaBuda said the Jiffy Stop space is going to be leased to the karate business next door.
“I am upset,” said LaBuda feeling low. “My friend says when I die they’re going to spread my ashes over Jiffy Land.”