CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In 1983, a gas explosion unexpectedly demolished the Oakhurst Foodland and injured 18 people who were inside the store.
On Sunday, the current version of that grocery store, an IGA, will close its doors. This time, the shutdown won't come as a surprise to the 12 employees, some who even witnessed the blast nearly 30 years ago.
Employees marked down the store's entire inventory by 25 percent a few weeks ago. Everything left in the store sold for 50 percent off the regular price over the past two weeks.
By Thursday afternoon, the nine aisles inside the store were completely bare. A couple small shelves still stocked with spices, coffee, cosmetics, baby food and light bulbs welcomed the customers who walked in, shocked to see it stripped clean.
A family of three strolled through the automatic door as the woman said that the young boy behind her wanted to visit the store "one last time."
Other people hugged workers who have bagged their groceries and welcomed them to the store for years.
South Charleston residents Pat and Justin Smith grabbed some discounted items Thursday. They wanted to say their last goodbyes to a store they've shopped at since before the gas explosion.
"I wanted to say goodbye to the workers. They are just so friendly," Pat Smith said.
Oakhurst IGA owner John Koehn said he is shutting his store down on Sunday. He didn't give a specific reason why he is closing the store he's owned since the early 1970s.
Koehn has sold the property and sources familiar with the closing expect the building to house an electrical school. The store's equipment will be sold at an online auction.
Locals like Jody Hensley, who has visited the grocery store since the 1970s, don't want to remember the empty aisles but prefer to reminisce about the "good ol' days."
Hensley's grandparents -- like most of the community, it seemed -- shopped every Saturday at what was then called the Oakhurst Foodland, she said. The store became an IGA in 2005.
"It didn't matter if you paid 10 cents more for something at the store, it was worth it," Hensley said. "My grandparents raised me and my little sister and [the store employees] watched us grow up just like they watched so many other people in the community grow up.
"They watched my little boy grow up and now my little boy is 6 [feet], 2 [inches]."