New grocery now serving Springfield residents in former food desert

Cashiers and other employees at Groceryland prepare the store on Wednesday for its opening the following day. The grocery is located at the former Kroger building on South Limestone Street. Hasan Karim/Staff

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Cashiers and other employees at Groceryland prepare the store on Wednesday for its opening the following day. The grocery is located at the former Kroger building on South Limestone Street. Hasan Karim/Staff

A new grocery store is scheduled to open its doors to shoppers on Springfield’s southside Thursday morning, ending a nearly two-year absence of a fresh food market in the area.

Groceryland, located at 1822 South Limestone St., will fill a void left in March 2020 when Kroger shuttered its doors in that part of town. Now, residents will have access to a full service grocery again.

Kroger’s vacancy left the southside to be classified as a food desert, an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. That classification impacted an estimated 22,000 people.

“It was devastation. A lot of people don’t have cars and they can’t get where they need to go to get groceries. It cost them more to catch the bus or pay somebody to even take them to the other side of town,” said Miriam Jones, who lives close to the former Kroger location, and is a cashier for Groceryland.

Lack of access to affordable and healthy foods will no longer be the case in the area as Groceryland seeks to offer fresh produce, meat, baked goods and other products commonly found in grocery stores at affordable prices.

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Jones said that a new grocery store opening in the area means a lot to residents, particularly as some may not have access to drive to other parts of town to get daily or weekly food items. She said there are a lot of elderly that live close by and the new grocery store will be a benefit to them.

Kroger’s closing last year also prompted community discussions of not only finding a replacement, but making sure that when a new grocery store opened, it would be supported enough to stay.

Kroger donated its former building on South Limestone Street to the City of Springfield to be used for a future grocery store. Groceryland later purchased the property from the city for around $769,000.

It was announced in May that Groceryland would take the former Kroger’s place. The grocery is owned by local physician Dr. Vipul Patel and the business’s president is Ravindra Patel. They have a grocery store in New Lebanon as well as another called Warsaw Shopwise in Warsaw, Ohio.

Dr. Patel has been practicing medicine in Springfield since 2003. He said that opening a grocery store in the southside is not only a business opportunity, but also fulfilling a crucial community need.

Groceryland became interested in potentially purchasing the property after hearing concerns about the area being a food desert, he said.

Both him and Ravindra said its important to have this grocery in the community as it can provide affordable healthy food options to residents. A lack of access to healthy foods can lead to a number of health issues.

Ravindra Patel said that a lot of people in the area have limited income and can’t afford to eat out often. He said a lot of them cook at home and it is important that their is a store that caters to them.

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Groceryland has planned to invest more than $2 million into the new store. That included renovations and other associated costs. The city of Springfield also provided support of $900,000, said City Manager Bryan Heck.

The grocery store was planning to originally have a soft opening in November. However, that was pushed back as they needed to hire more people and wrap up some repairs to the building.

Groceryland currently has roughly 65 employees at the Springfield location, and is looking to hire more. Though the store is now opened, it will have its official grand opening and ribbon cutting on Dec. 20.

The store hours will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will be opened 7 days a week.

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