It will be possible to stock up for your Labor Day party this year at Logansport's newest grocery store.
Gothra's Neighborhood Market at 824 N. Third St. is already stocking its shelves and hiring employees. And it has a philosophy of belonging to the neighborhood and offering fresh produce and fresh-cut meat with old-fashioned, personalized service.
Officials from Gothra Family of Companies haven’t set an exact date for opening yet, said Connie Vanetten, the company’s financial controller and one of those working on getting the store together. But it will definitely be before the end of August.
Gothra's owner and Lafayette-are entrepreneur Paul Singh Gothra said they will have a soft opening followed by a grand opening with samples, giveaways and prizes a week or two later.
The company began work on the former Marsh Supermarket, which closed in 2017 with all Marsh stores during bankruptcy, in September.
The work intensified around March with Gothra Family updating everything from refrigeration systems to cash registers.
“We replaced everything in the store,” Vanetten said. “Everything in here has been literally gutted and replaced.”
There are also 50 security cameras around the store and more energy efficient lighting inside and out.
Gothra Family, which also owns the Marathon gas station and convenience store east of the grocery (the former Hook’s Drugstore), bought both former Marsh locations.
“When Marsh closed, it did leave a big hole, what they call a food desert,” said Economic Development Organization Executive Director Bill Cuppy.
“It’s [the west side] where the largest need is,” said Vanetten.
People in the neighborhood — many elderly — don’t have walkable access to reasonably priced, healthy foods, she said.
This is Gothra Family’s first full-sized grocery store, so “we’ve taken kind of a cross section from other stores,” she said.
It’ll be a full-service supermarket but not have too many brands of specific items, streamlining things for shoppers.
Customers can expect a top-shelf, a mid-range and a low-cost option for shelf items, as well as beer and wine, fresh cut meats and a deli with salads and pre-made sandwiches. The market will also regularly have specials, like Pick 5 discounts and deals on meat.
“We will have an aisle of authentic Latino products,” Vanetten said.
They also plan to carry items for the Burmese community, although they need to educate themselves on that group’s needs, she said.
“It’s all about who walks in the door and what customers wants,” Vanetten said. “We’re willing to move and shake with the community and make it their store.”
A suggestion box will be up, and there will always be a Gothra family member on the premises.
They’re also bringing back some Marsh employees, having hired four already while interviewing others. The recent hires include a butcher with 30 years’ experience and a woman with 17 years’ experience.
“We’re bringing them back home,” to a company that will take care of them, Vanetten said.
She said the company wants to open with solid, seasoned people from the community, some bi-lingual.
“We’re looking to give as much personalized service as we can,” she said. For both customers and employees, “they’re not a number. They’re a name,” she added.
The company is still considering whether to be open 6 a.m. to midnight or 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Gothra said if there’s a demand for having it open 24 hours, they will do that. Vanetten said they’ll try to be open for late shift workers. However, they will also have items people need at the convenience store, he said.
Vanetten said people have been coming in every day to either apply for work or ask when they will open. Neighborhood resident Ron Strasser was one who popped in on Wednesday to ask when it would be ready. He’s looking forward to the convenience of something close.
“I won’t have to fight traffic,” he said.
To help establish the store, Logansport and Economic Development provided $131,000 in Tax Increment Financing money for fixing up the block and $100,000 in County Economic Development Income Tax money, Cuppy said. Gothra has until mid-September to have a working grocery store open or it will have to repay half the TIF money.
Cuppy said he proposed the TIF money because the block needed sidewalks, the parking lots were in bad shape and it needed lighting. “It just looked bad,” he said.
The CEDIT money will be given when the work is finished.
Gothra said that the city has also been good to them, and Mayor Dave Kitchell and Cuppy were aggressive in pursuing the grocery stores.
“They want to see something happen in this town,” he said.
Gothra also plans to open a store at the other old Marsh Supermarket at 315 14th St. However, there are no plans when work will begin on it. Cuppy said the city will likely work with Gothra for financial incentives on that property as well.
Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5117.