After more than a week without working air conditioning, a Mishawaka Dollar General closed its doors temporarily Saturday for safety reasons.
According to customers and an employee, the store on South Merrifield Avenue had gotten as hot as 105 degrees inside.
“After 15 minutes, I had to walk outside and catch my breath,” said Mishawaka resident Bill Bonney. “It's so hot in there the candles are melting.”
Bonney says he became worried about the safety of the store’s products and employees after visiting it this week with his wife. He usually buys food at Dollar General, but decided against it because of the heat.
“You walk into there and walk to the back of the store and walk out. And by the time you get to the front of the store you're drenched in sweat.”
Several customers say some of the food being sold in the store was melting.
Bonney and at least one other customer called corporate this week to report the problem, but came back Saturday to find out nothing had been done.
But once a NewsCenter 16 crew showed up and started interviewing customers, Dollar General’s regional manager decided to close the store.
Because of corporate policy, he couldn’t comment on the situation, but a sign on the stores door read, “Store closed, no air. Sorry for inconvenience.”
Several calls and e-mails to Dollar General’s media relations representatives weren’t returned Saturday.
It’s unclear when the store’s air conditioning will be repaired or when the store will re-open.
One employee did tell NewsCenter 16 the air conditioning hadn’t been fixed because of a problem with the way corporate contracts out repairs.
But Bonney says, regardless, the issue should have been addressed long ago.
“It's inhumane what they're doing to these people,” Bonney said. “It's like keeping a dog locked up in a car or a baby.”