(Posted Dec. 23, 2015)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Residents of Mount Sterling got an early Christmas present, but like many gifts, this one needs some assembly.
Madison County Commissioner and businessman Paul Gross, former IGA store operator Scott Jewett and Mount Sterling resident Danny Crawford are teaming up to renovate and reopen the grocery store on Yankeetown Road. Their plan is to open by Memorial Day. They made the an-nouncement on Dec. 21 in the shell of the store that closed two-and-a-half years ago.
“I can’t go around the street corner without people asking me about it,” Gross said of the store that once employed as many as 45 people.
The store’s location is on the main route to Deer Creek State Park which Jewett said is one reason he, Gross and Crawford want the store open by Memorial Day, the start of the summer vacation and camping season.
“Camping traffic brought in $10,000 a day,” he said.
The announcement answered what the trio of entrepreneurs called rumors.
“I’ve had a lot of my former employees call and ask for a job,” Jewett said.
Gross said they expect to spend “hun-dreds of thousands of dollars” to revitalize the store, putting what he called “a fresh and crisp” look on it.
Plans call for a deli in the rear of the building and a restaurant atmosphere.
“A lot of industry around here doesn’t have the eating facili-ties,” said Gross, adding that a sub shop will serve fresh breads.
Plans also call for using locally grown produce and Madison County-raised beef.
After the store closed, residents had to drive 15 or more miles to do their major grocery shopping. In a pinch, they turned to convenience stores.
“I’ve been to convenience stores, and we have many,” said Crawford. “There’s no camaraderie there. People grab what they need and get out of there.
“I’m a firm believer in the adage, ‘If you build it, they will come’,” he added. “If you ask me for a reason why we’re doing this—we need it.”
Mount Sterling Mayor Charlie Neff praised the efforts to reopen the store, which will have an entirely new front.
He called it a necessity for the community which has already seen the loss of the elementary school when Madison-Plains put all students on one campus on Linson Road.
“It’s a hardship and a burden on people who can’t get out to go shopping,” Neff said. “Having a grocery store means there is no reason to leave town.
“If we don’t do something, Grove City will,” he continued. “I can see the lights from Grove City coming down the tracks.”