ERIE, Pa. — Community members and employees of Erie County Farms are doing what they can to help the owner keep the doors open.
In an effort to help keep the store open, employees and community members held a fundraiser at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, 1617 Walnut St., on Sunday.
“We’re like a family at Erie County Farms,” employee Americo E. Rocco said. “We have 30 some jobs, 40 jobs and we’re trying to keep it going for the community. It is one of the most reasonable and freshest stores you can shop in Erie County.”
Owner Natalie Pacileo filed for bankruptcy protection in December after her landlord and two suppliers sued her and filed for eviction.
The long time east Erie grocer has run up debts well in excess of $120,000 in rent and bills.
The fundraiser was held to help offset some of that debt.
“We are giving 100 percent — 150 percent — because we love her,” employee Patty Redinger said. “And we would do anything to help her.”
Customers said the owner has played a pivotal role in the Erie community and they said it’s time to support her.
“My wife and I are longtime supporters of Erie County Farms and Natalie,” Tom Stasewski said. “Over the years, she’s helped out donations, charities, gave money freely to others. So now we’re here to help her and hopefully the place will stay open.”
Despite the fundraising efforts, the fate of the store is in Judge Thomas Agresti’s hands.
Pacileo could still face liquidation with a court date set for Dec. 5
“I’ve been with her for over 26 years,” Rocco said. “And for a family, if you don’t shop at Erie County Farms, you’re not shopping in the right place.”