Ever since city officials approved construction of a 43,000-square-foot grocery store in southeast Springville in 1987, most residents have wondered if a business could succeed in such a large building in a part of town that's mostly residential.
And so far, none has.But Paul Ream, owner of Ream's Bargain Warehouse, says that will likely change. Tuesday, Ream opened the 13th store of his grocery chain in the building, 759 East 400 South, and said he plans on being in business there for a long time.
"We're more than thrilled with the reception we've had down here," Ream said Tuesday shortly after the store opened. "I just about fell over when I saw all the people in the store this morning, and we haven't even run an ad yet."
Because of the building's past history, most Springville residents are skeptical, but hope Ream is right. Even the group of neighbors who opposed the building in its planning stages say they would rather have the building occupied than remain empty.
"It will be nice having a store in our back yard again," one customer told another Tuesday.
Completed in September 1988, the store was intended to be part of the Dove's Happy Service Market chain. But Dove's never moved into the store because owner Deon Dove filed for bankruptcy a short time later.
The building sat vacant for a year before opening as The Village Pantry. Seven months later it closed and its owners filed for bankruptcy, claiming more than $2 million in debts.
That's where Ream picks up the story. After being vacant for another eight months, Ream purchased the store in December for $1.8 million from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The proceeds went to Valley Bank and Trust to cover debts owed by the store's previous owners.
Ream said it's because there is no mortgage on the building and its contents that he will have an advantage over previous owners. He also said Springville residents will find that Ream's offers products that can't be found in other stores and at reasonable prices.
"We have nothing hanging over our heads," Ream said. "The store is paid for and we made a good purchase. So we will not let anybody undersell us."
The store features a produce department, a meat department, a bakery, a camera and video department, a delicatessen, a snack bar and all the non-food items that are featured in most grocery stores. Ream said the snack bar will feature ice cream and fried chicken, sold at prices intended to draw people into the store.
"We've got good chicken and we're going to be serving Springville people chicken at a good price forever," he said.
Like Ream's other stores, the Springville store will operate on a cost plus 10 percent basis. Also, the store has a western wear section and a shoe and boot section. Ream said the store will sell most major brand boots, shoes and clothing at discount prices because he buys the merchandise at close-out prices.
Ream's 14th store is scheduled to open in April in Layton.