Groundbreaking celebrates grocery store

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The more than three-year journey Vinton County citizens have taken while trying to obtain a grocery store was pointed out multiple times Monday morning, March 20, during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Campbell’s Market at the building site located adjacent to Vinton County High School at 630 E. Main St. in McArthur. The store is expected to be built and opened in August.

However, with the sense of elation, there was a reflection that the road was rocky at times and the process was long and difficult. This view was expressed by people both on and off the program schedule. It has been nearly four years since the Super Valu grocery store closed and the county has done without a grocery store ever since.

One person who never lost hope a store would be built was Vinton County Senior Citizens Director Rhoda Price. She became known as “the banana lady” as she often carried a banana and displayed it to symbolize that county residents were having to drive out of the county to buy fruit, meat and a host of other items due to the lack of a local grocery store. Price noted many senior citizens were doing their grocery shopping when they were transported to larger surrounding communities for medical appointments.

She thanked State Representative Ryan Smith, former Vinton County Commissioner Jerry Zinn and everyone else connected to the project for their diligent work in finally securing a grocery store for the county.

Smith stated the process was long and sometimes frustrating, but that those involved trekked on until a deal was finally put together.

“We have been persistent and did not quit,” said Smith. “We had a few false starts along the way, but we never gave up.” Smith stated that the Campbells are good operators and community members need to support the store by buying their groceries locally. “We really need this store to be successful so we never have to have this discussion again,” he said.

Earlier in the process, the county hired a Minnesota-based marketing firm to provide guidance and its report to the commissioners indicated the Vinton County High School area was the best place for a store and that turned out to be the site which was chosen.

However, Smith believes the location of the store in a high-traffic school and commercial area, the Campbells’ reputation as good business people, and the willingness of people to want and support a good store in their community will all be factors in Campbell’s Market McArthur being a success.

Senator Peterson stated this day was “a long time coming” and he is “proud we have gotten here. Now, we are waiting until August and the projected grand opening.”

Although he was not a speaker during the program, Vinton County Commissioner Mike Bledsoe stated he was impressed to see the county rally together and compared it to when there was a local effort in the 1990s to build a new high school. He stated there were many ups and downs in the process, but in the end, the county will be getting a brand new store with good operators.

This opinion was also shared by local Realtor Carol Dodrill, who believes the new store reflects a growth pattern which is occurring in the county.

“Recently, the community has had a new hardware store open, broken ground on a new grocery store, and has a new University of Rio Grande Community College branch campus on the way,” Dodrill observed. She believes this growth will be good for the real estate market, the tourism sector, and the county’s employment picture.

She also pointed to the strong reputation the Campbell family has in operating grocery stores in small communities and believes they will be a strong part of improving McArthur and Vinton County.

Dodrill also credited State Representative Smith for all he did along the way as the process unfolded.

“Ryan believed in this project and worked tirelessly to help find us a store,” she remarked. “We are very fortunate to have him as our representative.”

Actual construction has not yet begun, but is expected to in the near future. The new 12,000-square-foot grocery store will stock fresh-cut meats, fresh vegetables and general grocery items.

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