PORT HENRY – Stewart’s Shops Corp. opened its north country prototype store model Wednesday in Port Henry with an expanded lineup of beef, potatoes, fruit and frozen food. The prototype is part of a two-year, $25 million investment focused on communities with limited access to groceries and produce.
The 4,200-square-foot, $2.3 million shop on South Main Street is located on the western banks of Lake Champlain on the same property where Mac’s Market operated the community’s only grocery store until going out of business in September. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for retailers to play a bigger role in rural upstate communities where grocery stores for the past decade have been finding it harder to survive.
“We have seen the explosion of grocery, frozen foods and nonfoods,” said Chad Kiesow, Stewart’s vice president of facilities. “With what we are going through with Covid, people are relying on us more for a bigger breadth
of product than your typical convenience store.”
Stewart’s, which operated a 3,000-square-foot shop next door, purchased the former Mac’s Market site for $737,100 a couple weeks after the grocery store closed. The additional space allowed Stewart’s to add
lettuce, strawberries, mushrooms, frozen ground beef, potatoes and an extended line of frozen vegetables, lasagna, paper towels, dog food and other non-grocery products.
The Port Henry store is part of what Stewart’s Shops president Gary Dake and chairman Bill Dake have described as a prototype or laboratory to help the company determine the best way to serve North Country
communities where residents have to drive for 20 to 30 minutes to reach the nearest supermarket.