Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 4, 2014

Bluewell Improvement Association works to expand grocery store

BLUEWELL — The Bluewell Kroger store was busy with customers before noon on Saturday, but none of them seemed too busy to respond to requests from members of the Bluewell Improvement Association when they asked them to sign a petition asking the Kroger Company to consider expanding the existing store.

“We don’t have an organized city government like Bluefield, so we have to get out here and do things for ourselves,” Skip Crane said. Crane and Jimmy Webb were in front of the Bluewell Kroger store, talking with customers and getting a positive response. “We have close to 100 signatures already and we just got started. I’ve had people from South and North Carolina and Indiana. If we can get a few more grocery shoppers in here, I think we can do it.”

There are only 15 members of the Bluewell Improvement Association, but each of them is committed to improving the community. The petition points out that about 13,000 vehicles travel U.S. Route 52 between Bluefield and Welch each day, and add that the Bluewell Kroger store is the only big box store in a 30-mile stretch.

“The Hatfield-McCoy has been open for 13 years, and during that time, has grown every year,” according to the petition the customers were signing. The petition indicated that the opening of the Pocahontas Trail System has had an immediate impact on ATV rider permit sales, bringing an increase from 5,000 permits sold in its first year to 35,000 permits sold in 2013.

“Be it therefore resolved, we the undersigned request the Kroger Company give serious consideration to the expansion of the store located in Bluewell with the addition of a fuel center to accommodate visitors as well as local residents,” according to the petition.

“We’ll be out here again on Tuesday from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., collecting signatures,” Crane said. “We’re going to keep gathering signatures up until May 15. We have petitions in both of the Bluewell banks, Bluewells Pharmacy, the beauty shops and one in the Kroger. We have one in Montcalm High School, and in Bluefield, we have petitions at Manicures & More, the Ugly Duckling and Hartzog Insurance. People can only sign one time.”

Maxine Clower of Bluewell said that she would like to see an expanded Kroger store in Bluewell. “I think we should have a lot of things out here. I would like to see a Veterans’ Administration clinic out here.”

“We really need the gas station,” Crane said. “These ATV coming here are on trailers, and it’s hard for them to get in and out of smaller gas stations. We are less than 3 miles from the city limits of Bluefield.”

Rena Lawless of Princeton lives in Princeton and works at the Dish Network Call Center in Bluewell. She said she visits the Bluewell Kroger store five days per week. “I pick up food for lunch here and I stop in after work when I need to pick something up.”

“I think a bigger store here would be awesome,” Tracy Dalton of Bluefield, Va., said. “I stopped shopping at Kroger when they took the one out that was in Bluefield, Va., but now, I’ve started coming out here.”

Alisha Keene of North Tazewell, Va., said she would like to see the Bluewell Kroger store carry more health foods. “The store in Princeton has a good selection of health foods,” Keene said. “I would like to see that selection in Bluewell too.”

Crane said that anyone who would like additional information on the effort can contact him at (304) 589-5711.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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