There used to be four Bing’s Branches. And then there were three, and then two, and now there aren’t any left. I remember reading magazines at Food 4 Less while my mother shopped. I remember buying Yu-Gi-Oh cards out of the machine at Price Chopper with my extra change. I remember the electronic horse at the original Bing’s.
It’s sad when any business goes out of business anywhere, but it’s extra sad when an establishment that was unique to the State Fair City shuts down for good. The Broadway Arms is no more and Sedalia’s Hometown Grocer has gone out of business.
Maybe it’s my fault for usually shopping at Woods Supermarket. It’s a lot closer to my house. Besides, Bing’s got my business when they had a better price on something. Competitive prices are caused by competitive businesses and it can be bad for competition when one of the major players ducks out.
I was there on the last weekend of Bing’s. The aisles were cleared faster than I expected when everything was only 25 percent off, and the pace picked up when suddenly most things were 70 percent and this was a literal Going Out of Business Sale.
There we were like vultures picking over the fresh dead remains of one of our oldest friends. But the deals were too good to pass up, even if the price included the occasional twinge of guilt for some. We skulked along the empty shelves, trying to find just a few more scraps of meat on those metal bones.
I got the last bag of spicy cheese snacks at West Bings and the last few bags of a certain chocolate candy with a crispy center at East Bing’s. I picked up some liquor when it went to 50 percent off, though I am saving it for a couple of special occasions. It would have been very easy to spend more, but I’m not made out of money. The Last X From Bing’s, a family heirloom to be passed through the generations.
Last Thursday was the last day of business for the Hastings store in Warrensburg. That’s not why I was in Warrensburg that day, but it was an unexpected bonus. Everything was 90 percent off, and there were still plenty of things to be had. It would have been even easier to spend a lot of money there, but I didn’t blow too much. One man had two carts jam-packed with merchandise and seemed to be waiting until he could find a lull in one of the checkout lanes. But that wasn’t going to happen with those prices.
So maybe it’s healthy to take at least one piece of the mighty beast as it lays fallen, especially if it’s at a good price. And just because we want to use every part of it doesn’t mean that we don’t mourn its passing.
Maybe we’ll see Woods West come to the old west side Bing’s space. Maybe a wild card grocery chain will pick up the space. Schnucks in Sedalia, anyone? Maybe the empty spaces that were once Bing’s will sit empty for a while. The Eastern one probably will, at least.
And how will the State Fair Shopping Center do in the meantime? Well, the location will still be great, but I think it will miss out on some of the traffic from people who used to come to the area to shop for groceries.
It was just a grocery store or two, but it means that good people are suddenly without jobs and good shoppers have to go somewhere else. A city like Sedalia and no hometown grocer. But I suppose all sorts of hometown grocers across the country have been closing up shop lately for all sorts of reasons – Bing’s is no different, I suppose.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.