BELLVILLE — Stoodt’s Market, a popular grocery in the Bellville area, closed for service Saturday at 8 p.m. It was a surprise to area residents and local officials. Some, who had shopped there for years, shared some memories of the local store and its owners through the years.
One resident said he had worked for George Stoodt, as a bagger and stocking shelves, 30 years go. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he remembered pushing grocery carts for elderly customers.
Fritz Ackerman, owner of Mid-Ohio Safe and Lock Co., said he had worked a bit at the market Sunday, and customers had to be turned away. “Oh, yeah. We’re going to miss that grocery store,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman shared that Marge Stoodt was at the store. He said he thought it would be good if the Stoodt family could reopen the facility. Several Stoodt daughters remain in the area.
The store was running a 50 percent off sale Saturday and customers were taking advantage of the special prices.
Store owner Jason Potes could not be reached for comment. A woman answering the phone at the register would not give her name, but did say the store was closing.
The shutdown was a surprise. Mayor Teri Brenkus said village officials didn’t know anything about this closing, and that “nothing had been brought” to their attention.
The Stoodt’s were “philanthropists,” one resident said. They cared a lot for the community and its residents, and currently support a scholarship to the Clear Fork Valley Foundation, he said.
This former employee said he knew the meat cutters, managers and check out personnel by name.
“That isn’t something you find at Walmart or Dollar General,” he added
Bernie Hollar bought the store from the Stoodt’s. The former employee said the Stoodt’s and Hollar “exemplified” what it means to be part of the community. He said people realize there must be progress and that things change, but the lost of that kind of store is “personal.”
He referred to the market as an institution.
Customers on Saturday said there had been rumors and dwindling stock on shelves, and news spread on Facebook recently that the store would close as of 8 p.m.
Potes bought the market from Bernie and Sharon Holler in early 2016. Potes has been active in the community and had been a member of Bellville Village Council. Community-minded, he was a benefactor of BNOC- the Bellville Neighborhood Outreach Center.
He took steps to expand the Stoodt’s business, adding upgrades on a number of fronts, including putting in beer and wine sales. In an attempt to keep up with other markets in the area, he =upgraded the Stoodt’s Market website so customers could order product online and have it delivered.
Originally from Fredericktown, Potes expanded his reach in 2018, when re-opened the former Geyer’s Market in Lexington and operated it as Main Street Market. It offered the same customer-service perks as the Bellville store. But within a year, the Main Street Market closed.
In February 2019, Potes was honored by the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and RCDG with an Economic Excellence Awards. That Business Excellence Award was given to a business that has experienced strong growth, capital investment, product development, and civic involvement.
Confirming rumors floating around last week, Stoodt’s Market in Bellville closed its doors Saturday evening, surprising many in the community who had done their shopping there for years.