EARLY — Owners of the Hometown Market on Early Boulevard announced they will close the store Oct. 31, but with its closure two more business may emerge.

Cayla and Bertha Furry announced they will sell the land the current Hometown Market sits on, which will go to the developing another future business, and Cullen Sliger – who managed Hometown Market since 2011 – will carry the name Cullen's Hometown Market to his new site.

"It's growth. The City of Early is expanding and once the Hobby Lobby was announced we've been approached several times about purchasing the property from different developers," Hometown Market Co-Owner Cayla Furry said. "Someone came along and wanted to purchase it. It was time to move on and a good deal that you can't turn down. We've employed several people over the years and we have one employee that we've had for four years and she will be moving on to work for Cullen (Sliger) as soon as he gets his new store front."

Furry said the process of closing would not be easy. Through Hometown Market, they provide area restaurants with fresh, farm-to-market produce and area farmers an avenue to sell their produce.

"It will be hard to watch the place shut down. I've gotten to know a lot of the customer base," Furry said. "Wendell, who is a farmer here, he grows squash and it's going to be a change for him because he is going to have to take the squash, okra and everything else he sells to another place next year. It's not just affecting us. It's affecting the farmers and everyone else that comes here."

Furry originally posted the announcement on the Hometown Market Facebook page, but in doing so sparked response comments she said are rife with misinformation. Hometown Market began as a way to resurrect the original Sliger's Hometown Market with Sliger acting as store manager. Furry said, like any business partnership, there have been ups and downs but overall working with Sliger has a great experience and she wishes him well as he goes into business ownership himself.

"Cullen approached me and wanted to see if we could reopen so we did," said Bertha Furry, who recently turned 91 years old. "It's been good. Several children that worked here have drawn salaries and had a chance to go on to better things. I've been here too long and I'm ready to retire."

Reflecting on an old business anecdote, Bertha Furry said it was easy to open a business and harder to close one. Until Oct. 31, it will be business as usual at Hometown Market. The annual pumpkin patch will remain open through Halloween and Cayla Furry invites the public to come out for one last photo in the patch for the thousands of Brown County residents that made it an annual tradition.

"The pumpkin patch has been a tradition. People have been coming here for 30-something years to have their pictures taken in the pumpkin patch," Cayla Furry said. "One of our employees is in her 20s and she brought in her picture when she was 4 years old from her in the pumpkin patch. We have it on the wall. One reason I want to stay open through October is to allow people to experience that tradition one more time."

What will sit atop the land Hometown Market currently occupies remains a mystery. Cayla Furry said she could not say who it is, but did say the City of Early could make an announcement soon, which echoes a similar statement made by Early City Administrator Tony Aaron during the Early City Council's Aug. 28 meeting, when he announced the city was in negotiation with three national-level chains looking to call Early home.