Grocery Store Renovation begins

Thursday, July 30, 2020
On Wednesday, July 22, volunteers started work on removing the damaged areas of the roof of the grocery store building.
(Photo by Megan Sabin)

You may have seen activity on Main Street as damaged areas of the grocery store are being tore down to make way for roof repairs. The building repairs began on Wednesday, July 22. The grocery store building was deemed salvageable by two separate engineering firms. Dave Sonnichsen has stepped forward to lead the remodel project, and has garnered the support of six additional volunteer carpenters to help.

Members from Remsen Economic Development stated, “We continue to gather community interest in investing in bringing the store up to desired specs with an initial goal of $500,000. We believe we have discussed all possibilities in conjunction with our goal in getting the right person in to take charge of the store that has a vested interest in our town and its future. Talks continue with two such individuals, and we believe the community is ready to back the right individual to bring a grocery store back to Remsen.”

Results from a survey conducted by Remsen Economic Development showed 138 of 140 positive responses, with two that were not related to the grocery store.

The City of Remsen and Remsen Economic Development entered into an agreement in which the store will be deeded over to Remsen Economic Development at a future date, as long as they invest $150,000 into improving the property.

The City, investing $159,000, will recoup some of that investment with the sale of the residence at 610 S. Washington St., which was completed on July 22.

Remsen Economic Development is working to develop a plan for funding a grocery store. The plan will require donations and investments from the community in support of bringing the store up to desired specs. Norine Harvey, who volunteered to help on the May survey, has agreed to help coordinate fundraising along with Jeremy Bunkers.

There have been some large pledges from some business leaders of both donors and investors in the early stages. The Remsen Economic Development group will not take in any of these pledges without feeling comfortable the goal can be reached. We will plan to give periodic updates on our continued progress.

(Photo by Megan Sabin)

Active members of Remsen Economic Development are Angela Waldschmitt, Ashley Schuttpelz, Ben Klein, Bob Gengler, David Fisch, Dave Sonnichsen, Dee Bohnenkamp, Joe Arens, Tom Bacan, Jeremy Bunkers, and President Mike Nelson.

Remsen Economic Development has “invested in” more than ten businesses through low interest loans over the last five years in helping those businesses either get started or expand.

Remsen Economic Development member Jeremy Bunkers stated, “I thought the idea of a grocery store back in Remsen was dead. Then my friend, former councilman Dick Sievers, came with the possibility of working with an interested party to run the store. Dick was as animated as I have ever seen him, and I felt I owed him some effort to see this through as I left him on the council a couple years back (Bunkers laughs).”

(Photo by Megan Sabin)

“As I continued to work with all the people involved, I became more encouraged that this could happen, having an attitude of why this will work versus why it will not. This process has been long, but hopefully it will be rewarding to see what can happen when people in our community work together. There are so many people with passion to do good, but it’s not always easy to get to the mutual result.” continued Bunkers.

“We (Remsen Economic Development) have been blessed to continue to receive support from our local business members through annual memberships trusting that we will work for them to be successful together, and we are glad to lead this effort. We were fortunate to have the City take the risk in purchasing the properties to help keep this thing rolling. It is not always easy getting everyone on the same page, but through the survey and feedback from the community, it has been mostly unanimous. A locally owned grocery store in the town of Remsen will benefit local businesses as well as our citizens.”

(Photo by Megan Sabin)