Wayne’s Market is Officially Closed

Cody Semrau

Despite various rumors circulating the Colgate community for the past several weeks, Wayne’s Market is closed for good. At this point, there are no official plans for what will replace the now empty storefront.

Back in July, Wayne Foster, the sole owner of the grocery store, was approached by a development company offering him an undisclosed amount of money to build an apartment complex on his property. The developer, Fairmont Properties, is based out of Cleveland, Ohio, and does a number of redevelopment projects across the U.S., particularly around college campuses.

It wasn’t until September that Foster officially pulled the plug on his store, selling out the entire inventory and liquidating all of the equipment. Several weeks later, however, Foster decided to back out of his commitment to Fairmont Properties and keep his property.

“I jumped the gun on the decision to close the store,” Foster said. “I’ve been getting burned out working days, nights and holidays, seven days a week. I wasn’t thinking about closing when the developer approached me, but he offered me a good price and I decided to take it.”

After closing the store down, however, Foster realized the considerable capital gains and taxes that he would have to pay on the deal with Fairmont. Also, although it was not the determining factor, he realized the Fairmont apartment development would have competed with the nine student rentals that Foster owns.

Foster has been the owner of Wayne’s Market for the past 20 years, buying out the grocery store that was then known as “Great American.” It wasn’t until recently that Wayne’s has had to compete with larger grocery franchises like Price Chopper. Still, Wayne’s was able to remain profitable based on both its accessibility and its extensive beer selection.

“I’ve always been the small guy,” Foster said of his store. “But I’ve always tried to have the best beer supply and the most to offer.”

Although Foster backed out of the deal with Fairmount, he still owns the space and is unsure how he will use it in the future. He has second-guessed his decision to close down the store, admitting that it would be business as usual if he hadn’t been approached by Fairmont Properties this past summer. But, after selling all of his inventory and coming to terms with his choice to shut down the store, he will not re-open Wayne’s.

“I really like Hamilton and the students,” Foster said. “I wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for the students. But I’ve been really fortunate and made a good run these past 20 years.”

Why Fairmont decided to come to Hamilton in the first place is unclear. However, there have been unconfirmed reports that Colgate recruited the company to come and redevelop Wayne’s. Neither the University administration nor Fairmont Properties was available for

immediate comment on the matter.

Now that the store is no longer being converted into an apartment complex, Foster has been contemplating developing one or more storefronts in place of the former grocery store. Several possibilities include a bicycle shop, a bakery and a comprehensive beer store. However, these are all just hypothetical options being considered for the time being. No development is expected to begin until next spring at the earliest.

Contact Cody Semrau at [email protected]