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Fortino's Food Market closing after 106 years of service

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One of the co-owners says a death in the family was the straw that broke the camel's back

Swartz Creek, Mich. (WJRT) - Fortino's Food Market has stood on Miller Road in Swartz Creek for 106 years. But on Friday, September 2, the owners will close their doors for the last time.

The family was known for their community service during the Great Depression- and one street in Swartz Creek is even named after the store's founder.

The store stayed in the Fortino family since it was founded in 1916- and the brothers who co-own it said a family tragedy forced their closure.

"You just can't go on without him. It's just not possible," said James Fortino about his little brother Mark.

At 62, Mark was the youngest Fortino and put in long hours at the meat counter.

Nancy Holland - a customer of 39 years- recalled the generosity of the Fortino family - especially Mark.

"I was trying to get a package of hamburger and another lady was grabbing them all up. And Mark says 'no wait a minute. We have a limit.' Then he pulls me aside after the lady went and says 'you're here all the time. You're one of our customers. We know you,'" She said.

But when Mark suddenly passed away in May, brothers James and Paul came to a decision.

"When somebody's doing that much work, you can't replace that. Somebody actually has to do that. Meat has to be cut. Meat has to be wrapped," James said.

Looking for a few items among the nearly-sold-out shelves, shopper Lisa Beauvais said she'll miss the store.

"When I think of Downtown Swartz Creek, I think of Fortino's. So... It's just sad," she said.

With the business closing, James told ABC12 he'll get his first proper break in nearly 30 years.

He just wishes his brother got the chance to have one too.

"The store took all of his free time for the first 62 years and then... fate took the last 25. And that's the real tragedy of this," James said.

James added that he and his family made a lot of sacrifices to keep the store running from seven-day weeks to 12-plus-hour shifts.

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