NASHVILLE – Plans are underway to open a new, independently owned grocery store on Main St. late this summer.
Tim Allen, group manager with Rehkopf Enterprises, Inc., announced Tuesday that the company plans to purchase the former Charlie’s Thriftway building and convert it into one of the company’s Cash Saver food stores. Ivan Smith Furniture, which has occupied the building since its downtown location was damaged by fire last year, will return to its former building when the property transfer is complete.
“We’re excited to be here, to bring Nashville a hometown grocery store that will offer local items,” Allen said. “Ivan Smith has been really nice and welcomed us in and they’re excited to get a grocery store here in this town also, so they’re being really good to us.”
According to Allen, the company will take over the structure August 1 and immediately launch a full-scale renovation of both the interior and exterior with an expected completion date in early September. At its peak, he said the store will employ approximately 35 managers, cashiers and stockers, all of whom are expected to come from a pool of local applicants.
“You won’t recognize the store,” he said. “We’re gonna redo all the floors, go in with all new lighting, we’re gonna do a new roof, the LED refrigeration’s going in it. I mean, painting it, just a complete remodel.”
The store will be the latest of three Cash Saver stores owned by the company, offering a retail format that distinguishes itself from more traditional grocers with a transparent pricing model Allen claimed will lead to big savings at the register. Similar locations are already open and successful at Murfreesboro and Prescott.
“It’s a cost-plus program,” he said. “We bring everything in at cost of the goods to get them to the shelf, and we add 10 percent at the register. We will be very, very competitive in pricing.”
In addition to standard grocery store fare, Allen said the location will offer locally grown produce when available and feature a traditional meat market where patrons’ special requests will be honored by professional meat cutters.
“It will be fresh-cut meat, every day. All of our meat will be fresh. Anything you need from our meat department, we will cut it there. Specialty items, whatever you want – all you gotta do is ask,” he said. “All of our produce that comes through our warehouse will be fresh. When the local farmers get produce we will buy it and sell it through the store. We’re here for the hometown people.”
There will also be a satellite bakery as well as a wide selection of organic and gluten-free options, something Allen said “has become a big part of the business” in recent years as shoppers become more health-conscious.
The Nashville store will be the 14th owned by the Rehkopf firm, which has been in business for the past 35 years. Himself a veteran of the retail grocery industry, Allen has spent the majority of the past decade managing stores for the company in east Texas, but said he always hoped to return to southwest Arkansas, where he was a regular visitor to his grandparents’ cattle farm in his youth.
“They called me in and asked me to move up in this area and be over these stores and I couldn’t wait to get up here,” he said. “I was on my way as soon as they called me in, I’m excited to be here and I’m here to stay.”
Allen’s desire to return to the area mirrors that of the company he works for, which he said long hoped to open a location in the Nashville and seized the opportunity when the city’s Brookshire’s location announced it would close in February. Initially, the group hoped to open in the structure which housed the now-departed grocer, but was ultimately lured to the Main St. location by the prospect of owning rather than leasing the facility – a move that a indicates long-term commitment to the area.
“We’d always wanted to end up in Nashville,” he said. “We’d always had interest here in Nashville, and the opportunity finally came and that’s why we ended up here.”