Remsen residents try to breathe life into grocery store

Thursday, January 7, 2021
Pictured above, the grocery store building, located on the corner of Third St. and Washington St.
(Photo by Megan Sabin)

REMSEN — Remsen community leaders and residents are coming together to bring a grocery store back to life in their town.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, fire damaged the Farm Fresh Foodtown grocery store in downtown Remsen.

The fire, which was pretty much contained to the back part of the grocery store, resulted in a total loss of the store with damages estimated at $400,000.

At that time, owner Sammy Choda, talked about rebuilding and moving forward.

Those plans changed in 2020.

Jeremy Bunkers, Remsen Economic Development treasurer, explained in June 2020, Choda showed interest in selling his property rather than rebuilding.

“An interested party approached Dick Sievers about re-opening if Mr. Choda wasn’t interested,” Bunkers said.

With Choda’s interest in selling the property versus reopening, the Remsen Economic Development got involved.

“The structure is able to be saved,” Bunkers noted.

During the summer, Remsen Economic Development, headed by Dave Sonnichsen, led a group of volunteers to clear out the structure with hopes of bringing back a grocery store to Remsen.

The Remsen Economic Development group has been gathering funds through donations and investments from leaders in the community, as well as applying for grants, according to Bunkers.

“We plan for the store to be owner occupied, leasing the building and equipment inside from Remsen Economic and investors,” Bunkers explained.

To make that work, the plans call for finding an experienced/interested party that Remsen Economic feels would be successful long-term.

“We have received positive reactions based on a survey completed earlier this year,” Bunkers said.

Grocery stores in small communities are important to residents, he added.

“The population supports the need and grocery stores bring more support to other businesses in town,” Bunkers said.