Now that all the papers are signed and applications filed, the new owners of Wellington’s only grocery store are getting ready to welcome shoppers with a big Labor Day celebration.
Denver-based Bella’s Market has been operating the former Main Street Market since June 20, when it agreed to purchase the grocery operation and adjacent liquor store from Nebraska-based Panhandle Coop Association for $285,000 plus the cost of existing inventory. Bella’s also purchased the building at 7670 Fifth St. from ZWZ LLC for an undisclosed amount in a deal that closed at the end of June, Bella’s General Partner Sam Mancini said.
“We’re excited to be in Wellington and want to be a cornerstone of the community,” Mancini said, adding that the company plans to support local organizations and nonprofits. Bella’s Markets in eight other small eastern Colorado towns have made charitable donations of approximately $120,000 to their communities in the past three years.
Mancini said his philosophy is to acquire existing stores and then find good people to run them. In Wellington, Bella’s has hired all the employees from Main Street.
“This is a great team,” Mancini said. “I am so impressed with the quality of the employees here. John (Leeb, manager of the store) is a great grocer. He cares about his employees and his customers.”
Bella’s is a member of the same distribution network as Main Street – Affiliated Foods Midwest – so shoppers will find all the same brands on the shelves. Mancini said the company plans to upgrade some of the in-store merchandising, add a loyalty program, increase the number of local products available through the Colorado Proud program, and make other changes so shopping locally is a better experience.
Bella’s is now mailing weekly ads to Wellington homes and has expanded shopping hours by two hours a day Monday through Saturday, when the store is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday hours are still 7 a.m.-7 p.m., but Mancini hopes to stay open until 8 p.m. soon. He is also working with the Town of Wellington to change the entrances and traffic flow to make it easier to get into the parking lot.
New signage should be installed by the grand reopening. Marketing Director Crystal Cherubuck said plans for the event are still in the works, but there will be definitely be barbecuing in the parking lot and other activities.
Now what Bella’s needs is loyal customers.
“Independent grocers don’t think they can compete with giants like Walmart,” Mancini said. “But at Bella’s, we can. When people come to the grand reopening, they’ll see two carts full of items, one with Walmart prices and one with our prices. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”