BETHEL – After a long sixth month wait and several delays, the Bethel Save-A-Lot grocery store made its grand opening on Dec. 18.
The Saver Group was joined by Bethel Mayor Alan Ausman, Clermont County Chamber of Commerce President Matt Van Sant, and Bethel Business Association President Mike Salvatore to welcome members of the community, fellow business owners, and patrons to the new group’s newest location.
Ausman said the opening of the grocery store is key to not only development of the Village of Bethel, but benefits those in the community who lost a chance to have access to food when the previous tenant vacated the property.
“Jobs are important, but not only that, there are lots of people in our community who don’t have the ability to drive,” Ausman said. “They don’t have access to get to some of the stores down the road and many communities have lost their stores and never got them back. I am very thankful the Saver Group decided to take the risk an open here. There were people lined up this morning at 5 o’clock to get in here.”
Ausman said the delay from the original September opening was because of permit issues the Saver Group ran into during the complete and total remodel of the prior IGA location.
“The original date was September, then moved to October, blown right through November to Dec. 9, and then they said Dec. 18 and we made it to this date,” Ausman said. “Like I said, if you look around and see how nice it is, if you were ever in this store before and walk in now it’s such a transformation. They had a little trouble with permitting and processes. It’s just such a nice store.”
Ausman said the grocery store is an important element not only economically, but for those who wish to move to the Village of Bethel. The newly established Save A Lot gives Bethel that element.
“I look at the aspect who wants to move to this town,”Ausman said. “They look at do they have access to groceries and schools and businesses and without a grocery store, I don’t think you are a viable community. This a store you can come in and see everyone you know. It’s kind of a community meeting center to a certain extent.”
The Chamber of Commerce said they were happy to see business grow along Ohio 125, especially in the area on the outskirts of Clermont County. Save-A-Lot joins Felicity IGA and Medary’s Market in Williamsburg as the only grocery retailers in that part of Clermont County.
“This is a great project,” Van Sant said. “The Chamber of Commerce gets up each day and we capitalize on the assets of this community to make it a preferred place to locate a company. When companies make those decisions it’s not just about a good highway system or wastewater system, it’s about quality of life factors – is it a safe community are their retailers – if I want to live here and raise a family and education my kids here we have to have those types of establishments. This is a critical improvement to the quality of life for those in this community.”
Van Sant said a lot of planning goes into communities and having something that draw in customers and other potential businesses is critical to the development of the area as a whole. Van Sant said having good places to educate your children, good places to work, good places to get food are all critical to the overall development of the community.
“When you have a good bundle of assets, it’s stabilizes things,” Van Sant said. “They don’t move away and join and new church and separate from their family. This is important to the community development process.”
Van Sant said the Saver Group’s invest is vital to the growth of Bethel as a community and a much needed asset for a community facing poverty.
“Long before we had restaurants, there were food stores,” Van Sant said. “It is absolutely necessary that a community, like Bethel, have this available to them. This is a big day for this community. It is a great sign. We have prosperity in Bethel, we have prosperity in Clermont County and we know we have residents out here from that work for businesses county wide and they come home and talk to their children about school and visit Save-A-Lot for their food needs and it’s circular process. The people committed to supporting this site, its a perfect match, we are going to look back 20 years from now and say this really was a turning point.”
BBA president Mike Salvatore said the new store was vital to the community. Those not only in Bethel, but the surrounding township and other areas can benefit from having a food store close to home.
“For the elderly folks who have to travel down the road in the county to get the necessary supplies to survive it’s a major discomfort for them to do that,” Salvatore said. “This is going to change that and bring a lot more people to the Village for them to get what they need and keep the extra traveling down the road.”
Salvatore hopes the new store opening will boost morale after the long awaited period before the new store opened.
“I don’t think we can even measure the boost it’s had or going to have on the community ,” Salavtore said. “They had a lot of problems, anyone who had been here under the previous owner saw the sad state the building had fallen into and for this company to come in, they had their work cut out for them and they stood up and did it right. It’s such a remarkable improvement to the place, if I didn’t know I was in Bethel, I would think I was elsewhere.”