Decades ago, the courthouse square had several local grocers to provide a valuable service to the community, and now, 62 years after opening the doors, Prather’s IGA is being forced to shut the doors due to economic conditions. Chase Prather first opened his store in what is now the Southern Hills Community Bank (formerly Adams County Building and Loan) and later built the building where the current store is located.

Over the years, many residents of West Union and surrounding areas would flock to IGA for their plate lunches.

Prather’s IGA was the last remaining IGA store in Adams County. Many communities throughout Ohio and the nation have lost their local grocery store over the past decade, a sign of small communities being swallowed up by big box retailers and changes in customer shopping habits. As the groceries close, their towns often hear a final death knell, or at least the signal that things are only going down hill in the lonely years ahead. The disappearance of the grocery store is much more than an inconvenience to the elderly, the poor, and those who don’t drive. It often speeds the plummet of home values and other lingering retail activity. Fortunately for West Union, although not locally owned, the community will have two remaining grocery stores to serve area residents.

The Informer asked our readers to share some of their favorite memories of Prather’s IGA on social media. The community responded by the dozens, highlighting the generosity of the Prather family and the sadness that the closure brings to loyal customers.

The banner declaring the closure of the West Union IGA. Photo: Haley Nesbit

A few of the memories:

Danny Davis, Sr:
When the store was still on the square my father got hurt in an accident at work. He couldn’t work. My mother went to store she always shopped at to get a few groceries. She had changed there for years. The owner told her she couldn’t charge anything because he didn’t know when Dad would be back to work. My mom didn’t know what she would do. As she was walking home and crying,Chase seen her and asked what was wrong. She explained it to him. Chase told her to go into the IGA and charge all she needed because he knew Mom and Dad would pay him when they could. That day his kindness got him some customers,not only my family but people who heard what he did for Mom. Chase was one of a kind.

Pam Phelps:
I worked there for 16 years and met so many wonderful people and have the greatest friends from there. So sad it’s closing but a huge thank you to Chase for giving me the opportunity to work there and become part of his family. !!! The world needs more Charles Prathers!

Pat Stevens:
Our daughter would travel 10 to 12 miles to the IGA store to get birthday cakes for the kids, and we all love the donuts! Prather’s IGA was always gracious in letting our Ladies group have Bake Sales to help support missionaries. THANK YOU!

Judy Newman:
You were always greeted by Chase with a hug or a pat on the back and a big smile. He was always the same. Always friendly and ready to help people. The meats were always better there than anywhere else. The cakes, the doughnuts, the chicken, the ribs, the baked steak and pizza were delicious. Most dinners in the county were catered by Prathers. We always got our Sunday School treats there. They catered my niece’s wedding…..it will be missed.

Sarene Bellamy:
Our daughter had to make a Thanksgiving turkey at her daycare. Each feather had something she was thankful for. The first feather was Prather’s doughnuts! That year Russ Grooms gave her an IGA truck for Christmas.

Wilma Koenig:
Chase was one of a kind. Always making sure families were fed even when he knew that he would never receive a dime back in repayment. He didn’t care. It was more important to him that families were taken care of and children were fed. Great man of principles.

Lindsay Cline:
Every birthday cake of my life for 30 years!

Brittany Purdin:
Every Sunday after church, my grandma and I went for lunch. It was a staple tradition until she passed away in 2008. I continued that tradition with my oldest daughter until we moved out of county, and it always warmed my heart to walk in and everyone still remembering us, and my grandmother. There are so many great memories there, but those are by far my favorite.

To read more memories, like and visit The Informer on Facebook.

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