UPDATE: Argenta Market to Close Feb. 8

Argenta Market, the grocery store at 521 N. Main St. in North Little Rock that was a big part of the burgeoning redevelopment of downtown, announced Wednesday that it will close on Feb. 8.

John Gaudin, head of the limited liability company that owns Argenta Market, said competition from major grocery retailers and the lingering effects of the Great Recession were behind the decision to close. He added, however, that the owners were interested in finding a way to reopen the store using a new business model.

"Just like any small-town grocery, the competition with the Wal-Marts and the Sam's and the Krogers of the world make it difficult to make a go of it," said Gaudin, who leads New Argenta Fund LLC. Gaudin, a developer who is a leading figure in the revitalization of downtown North Little Rock, said the owners, with the intent of resurrecting the market, were exploring markets that have found success in other communities, seeking a "more sustainable" business model.

The Argenta Market was known as a purveyor of locally grown and manufactured foods and featured a full-service deli.

The closure announcement was made on the grocery store's website and Facebook page.

The store opened in May 2010 under owners Gaudin, Paul Esterer, Jack Grundfest, Jody Hardin, Harold Tenenbaum and Tracy Windham. The ownership picture had shifted since then, Gaudin said, and the New Argenta Fund now owns the market.

"It is with mixed emotions that today we announce that Argenta Market will close on Saturday, February 8th, 2014," the announcement Wednesday began. "We want to sincerely thank all of our customers and friends for their unwavering support of Argenta Market. During the last 3 years we have seen phenomenal changes in Argenta, and we are confident that Argenta will continue to grow and expand.

"Just this month construction is under way on 78 new apartment units, the Argenta Innovation Center will also be started and the City has agreed to move forward on the design of the new Argenta Plaza across the street from the Market to make a new home for the Argenta Farmers Market. In February, the old Post Office will be opened as home to the new Laman Library Argenta Branch. We are seeing start-up companies like Bourbon and Boots and SEAL in addition to Custom XM, and Diamond Bear Brewery join the neighborhood.

"Although we are excited about all the activity, it is clear that Argenta Market in its current iteration is not the answer to the needs of the residents and businesses in Argenta. We are confident that Argenta Market Version 2.0 will be better than before. We also, want to thank our tremendous staff and wish them well during this transition."