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Amazing Grace Owner Says Recession, Chains Edged Him Out

After 15 years of operation, the Amazing Grace natural food store in Louisville's Highlands neighborhood will close.Owner Paul Koenig says there are two related factors that led to his store's demise. The first is the recession. The second is the ability for big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target to undersell him on items that used to be hard to find."You hope that people will get into a healthy lifestyle because then your business will take off, but what happens is people get into a healthy lifestyle, the bigger stores see that and take advantage of it…which is just life," he says. "We were open when Whole Foods and Wild Oats both opened and they affected us, but they didn't knock us out. As the economy goes down and you go into Target and Wal-Mart and you see things and you can get them for less. They probably sell them for less than we can buy them for."Koenig says he thinks Amazing Grace could have weathered either the recession or the competition, but not both at the same time. The store will close at the end of the month.A manager of one of the several area Rainbow Blossom markets says they've noticed the new competition, too, but their business remains strong.

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.