FORTVILLE — After more than 65 years of operation in Fortville, Strough’s IGA has passed from the family that started the business to another that plans to grow it and add some products and services.
Strough’s owners — including siblings Mark Strough and Debbie (Strough) Crist, children of co-founder Lloyd Strough — sold the grocery store in late December to members of the Singh family, which operates Indiana grocery stores in Anderson and South Bend, and out of state, including New York.
The Fortville store, at 624 N. Madison St., is now co-owned and managed by Johny Singh, who bought the business in partnership with his uncle, who owns and co-owns many stores in his extended family.
Johny Singh also co-owns and manages Strong’s Market in Anderson, which he and his uncle purchased two years ago.
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He looks forward to learning about Fortville and its customer base, he said.
“It’s a nice neighborhood; we can grow more business here,” Singh said.
Singh said he’d heard about Strough’s from suppliers who serve Strong’s and Strough’s; he approached the owners of Strough’s with a purchase offer the day before Thanksgiving.
Events moved fast after that, and the deal closed Dec. 19, Singh said.
A Strough family member declined to discuss the sale of the family business.
Singh said he doesn’t have plans for any big renovations, but he does hope to add some products and services, including a fresh meat market with a variety of specialty products, including steaks, sausage and deli meats.
The store also will add an ATM and will sell money orders and provide other services.
The change has brought mixed reactions from local residents who have long strolled down the store’s aisles.
“It’s kind of sad, that this is somebody’s family business, that it had to change hands,” said Candice Ross of Fortville.
But the change of ownership alone won’t affect her shopping habits — in fact, she’d spend more money there if the new owners dropped the prices, she said.
Teresa Alford of Fortville has been buying her groceries at the store for more than 35 years and even worked at the store for five years in the 1980s. She said she’s happy to see the owners are able to retire.
“I’m glad, in a way, because they’ve worked hard,” said Alford, who lives across the street from the store.
She said she was thankful Strough’s didn’t close several years ago when a state road project severely limited access to the store.
“They fought hard to keep that store open for us,” Alford said.
Singh has experience running a family business. While he was studying business at Ivy Tech Community College, he worked for his uncle at the South Bend grocery store his brother now manages.
He moved to Anderson in 2014 with the purchase of Strong’s, and he now lives in Fortville, just across the street from his new business.
He’ll be a familiar face at the store, just as the owners were before him. He said he will work 12-hour days for the foreseeable future.
“I like to stay busy,” Singh said.
Daily Reporter columnist Rebecca Crowe wrote a column about Strough’s in July 2015. Below is an excerpt from that column.
Strough’s has remained in its present location at 624 N. Madison St. since the store’s opening in December of 1949. Brothers Lloyd and Clinton Strough bought the lot that came up for sale earlier that same year. It came with a service station erected on the property.
The Strough brothers built the grocery next to the gas pumps. Their original store measured only 18 by 36 feet.
In 1965, Strough’s was remodeled and expanded with wider aisles, more produce, and a longer meat and deli department.
In 1974, Don Miller was in charge of ordering the meat and head cutter in the meat department. The dairy products were purchased from Borden and Davis Dairy. The produce came from an independent produce dealer in Indianapolis. At the time, Strough’s offered a special delivery service to a small group of elderly, ill or home-bound customers.
Strough’s survived retirements and national recessions, as well as a scare in 2010 when construction on State Road 13 – and the disruption to business it created – threatened to shut down the store permanently.