By Shelley Grieshop
The anchor store in the Amsterdam Center in New Bremen is closed but won't remain that way for long.
Tom Howell of Howell's IGA, at the corner of Monroe and Main streets, confirmed Friday a "tentative agreement" to move his current grocery operation to the site of the former Community Markets grocery store. A date for the move has not been set, Howell stated in a news release.
"The current market will remain operational during the transition," Howell stated.
Howell also manages the Pantry Pride store in St. Marys and will continue that partnership, he added.
Community Markets reportedly closed its doors a week ago today after notifying employees earlier this month that profits were low. Calls to its parent company, Fresh Encounter Inc. in Findlay, were not returned. Community Markets opened at the Amsterdam Center in February, replacing a Big Bear Store that closed in November 2003.
Community Markets still operates grocery stores in Wapakoneta and Cridersville.
Howell said he is excited about moving to a much larger building.
"The new location gives us the room to not only expand our grocery, produce, meat and deli operations, but the acquisition of an in-store bakery and the space to dedicate to a new take-away section, focusing on freshly prepared hot and cold foods," he said.
Howell's IGA began three generations ago by Margery and Wesley "Freeze" Howell.
Greg Myers, executive director of the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce, was relieved to hear the long-time IGA market would be expanding.
"It is very good news, this will give Tom (Howell) so many more options," Myers said.
Myers said the improvements Howell has made at the St. Marys Pantry Pride store shows what a good businessman and community leader he is.
"Tom and Jen (wife) Howell are always doing positive things for the community. They have a strong relationship with both the community and the other businesses here," Myers said.