The first fresh food market in Springfield’s so-called food desert held a grand opening on Monday, and Gov. Mike DeWine and several other state and local leaders were on hand.
Groceryland, located on the city’s southside, has been in operation since Dec. 8, when the owners held a soft opening.
Monday’s grand opening included gift cards, free deli and bakery samples as well as live music and speeches by DeWine, state representatives and Springfield and Clark County officials.
The speakers stressed the importance of the community supporting the new grocery store, as it aims to provide affordable fresh produce, meat, baked goods and other products commonly found in grocery stores.
Groceryland is located at 1822 S. Limestone St., the same building where a Kroger was until it closed in March 2020. The absence of a grocery store made the southside a food desert, an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. An estimated 22,000 people were impacted.
“Food, as we know, is absolutely essential to good health,” DeWine said, highlighting the importance for residence to have access to fresh and healthy grocery options. “When (Kroger closed), it was clear that this was a blow to the community.”
The governor frequented the former Kroger location many times in the past, and even talked to the company’s higher-ups about the importance of a grocery in the area when it was announced that the location would close.
Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said that the journey of finding a new grocer for the area was one that involved many community partners as well as the cooperation of Kroger.
“We needed to come together as a community, and that is exactly what has happened. It started by asking the previous grocer to do right by our community and donate the property, the materials and the equipment, so we could set up our path forward together. So we could revive this store into what it is today,” Heck said Monday morning.
Kroger donated the building to the Clark County Landbank to be used for a future grocery store. Groceryland later purchased the property for around $769,000.
It was announced in May that Groceryland would take the former Kroger’s place. The new grocery in the area 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, who has practiced medicine in Springfield since 2003, 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 purchasing the former Kroger property from the landbank 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.
The grocery is also in walking distance to many who are elderly or may not have access to transpiration.
“I am glad that we are going from a desert to an oasis. This is an oasis of fresh food,” said former Springfield Mayor Dale Henry to a crowd that had gathered at the grocery on Monday.
“I appreciated the fact that the Patels have put a major investment in this community and also that they have helped stabilize our property values in this neighborhood and improve the quality of life for all of south Springfield,” Henry added, noting that he lives three blocks away from the new grocery.
Groceryland has also invested over $2 million into the former Kroger property as well as hired approximately 65 people to work at the store with many being from the area.
The grocery is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
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