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Historic Pine River business closes abruptly

Jane Gorski of Pine River was the last customer at Shamps with a bag of Italian sausage, pork chops and crackers. Photo by Travis Grimler.1 / 3
Melissa VanHeerden turns off the open sign at Shamps Meat Market for the last time. Photo by Travis Grimler.2 / 3
After nearly 50 years of family service to the Pine River area, Shamps meat market closed its doors Oct. 11 until a buyer can be found. Photo by Travis Grimler3 / 3

After nearly 50 years of operation, the family owned Shamp's Meat Market closed its doors Oct. 11 with almost nothing left on its shelves.

Only 10 days earlier, owner Melissa Van Heerden made the decision to sell out the stock and close the business due to family health issues. The company stopped producing new stock, and began a dot sale reducing prices by 25 to 50 percent off. They announced the sale, and closing, on their sign out front, but customers were still surprised when they came through the doors on Oct. 11 and saw almost everything but the pork liver was already gone.

"We just kind of got the call from the doctor and had to deal with that and then move on. That's kind of where we are at," Van Heerden said.

Van Heerden is the granddaughter of founder Archie Shamp who opened the business in March of 1965 in a different location with a man named Dell Birk from Chicago. She has owned the shop since purchasing it in 2007 from her father, Mike Shamp who purchased it from his father Archie in 1975.

In 1993 the business burned down. Shamp rebuilt it in its current location on State Hwy 371.

Closing was not an easy decision to make for Van Heerden.

"It's really hard. It's a matter of health and work. Although I'd love to continue on, if my kids were older I'd ask which one would step up, but my oldest is 17 and my youngest is 4. With having six kids, it's my priority to take care of them as well as myself," Van Heerden said.

The sign out front now advertises for potential buyers.

"We don't really have any special plans. We just hope someone will purchase it as a meat market. That's really what it is intended for. That's really what it is set up for, but we just don't know what the future holds," Van Heerden said.

Van Heerden has heard from some potential buyers, but said there have been no serious offers.

Former owner Shamp expressed his gratefulness to the community of Pine River.

"Mostly what we want to say is, many thanks to our friends and our customers for their support through hard times, fires, and throughout the years. We really appreciate that. We're going to miss them all a lot," Shamp said. "Not only did we want to thank and show appreciation for our customers, but also our employees throughout the years for their dedication and hard work."

Nearly all the Shamps stock was sold before the final closing, Oct. 11 at 4:30. What remained will be either used by Van Heerden and her family, sold, or donated. Shamps employed four full time employees and three after school student employees.