Gypsum supermarket to be sold | VailDaily.com

Gypsum supermarket to be sold

Bare shelves have been an all-too common sight in Gypsum's Bella's Market, the town's only grocery store. Owner Sam Mancini announced Thursday that the stores in Gypsum and Wellington - the last two of 11 he once owned - will be sold.
Randy Wyrick|randy@vaildaily.com |

GYPSUM — Bella’s Market in Gypsum is poised to change hands, and some locals hope it will breathe life back into the neglected grocery store where shelves have been growing more empty for months.

The transaction is expected to close in about three weeks, owner Sam Mancini said Thursday in a written statement.

“We anticipate that the stores will remain open during this time,” Mancini said.

He did not say who the buyer is.

Mancini’s Wellington store is also being sold as part of the deal.

Businesses both succeed and fail, said Gypsum Mayor Steve Carver, who wished Mancini well.

“It’s frustrating for the community, and for him,” Carver said. “He tried to do a good job and we hate to see his business fail. We’re looking to him and the community moving forward. I wish him well in the future and it’s unfortunate it didn’t work here.”

At one time, Mancini owned 11 Bella’s markets in rural Colorado towns.

The Gypsum and Wellington stores are Mancini’s last two.

The Gypsum store’s shelves have been getting more and more bare through the summer, as deliveries became more sporadic.

Ken White works with Mission Foods, servicing Bella’s in Gypsum. He said Bella’s is required to pay when products are delivered, and always has.

The store in Wellington has reportedly not had a delivery in as long as three months.

Since the end of August, shelves at the Wellington store have only been about half full due to problems between the grocer and its supplier, Utah-based Associated Food Stores, Wellington Mayor Jack Brinkhoff told the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Community convenience

Gypsum has not always had a grocery store.

Lifetime local Howard Tuthill built and opened Columbine Market in Gypsum almost 20 years ago. Before that, the town had not had a grocery for decades.

Tuthill’s Columbine Market quickly became one of the community’s heart beats.

“We’ve always tried to support them. We remember having to drive to Eagle or Glenwood Springs to get groceries, and how excited we were when Howard opened the store,” said Gypsum resident Jan Hiland. “You’d go in to see all the local kids working part-time and chat with people who we’ve known for years.”

“Howard and his employees took great pride in it. He supported the community and we supported him,” Hiland said.

Mancini entered the Colorado grocery business in 2006 when he purchased similar markets in Akron, Haxtun, Walden and Wiggins, and St. Francis, Kansas, from Leroy Odell.

Mancini and some investors soon added markets in Gypsum, Wellington, Limon and Stratton.

To close the deal with the Odell family, Odell made a $2 million loan part of the deal, according to court documents in Washington County District Court.

When Mancini bankrupted Odell’s former stores in September 2012, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge awarded the assets from the St. Francis store to Odell.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.