By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Apple Market is the latest in a long string of grocery stores providing food options for the Newkirk community and surrounding areas. From little stores downtown that have long since closed, to larger facilities like IGA and Heartland, it continues a proud tradition of retail groceries in the community. Thursday, May 4 was a special day for Apple Market, as they finished a major renovation project that not only expanded the store, but also completely overhauled the inside, bringing an all-new shopping experience to its customers.
Erika O’Brien has been general manager for the past few years, and sees this as a boost for the community.
“It’s helping Newkirk grow, it’s bringing business to Newkirk,” she said.
It was also a special event for O’Brien, as it was her eighth anniversary with the company, and second renovation she has overseen.
Driving to the store that morning, one sees a scene completely different from only a few months ago. A new parking lot with restriping makes it easier, and safer, to find a parking spot near a new sign. Carts are now corralled outside, making for more room inside. Even the breezeway in front is repainted, with new sliding doors.
Inside the store proper, one quickly sees new registers, new flooring and much more room for merchandise in the area. To the east, what was once a room for rent, now houses an extended frozen section, and nearly all freezers and coolers are new. At the back, near an expanded meat department, customers now have new public restrooms.
“It’s amazing. We have bigger space, a bigger variety,” said store associate Lisa Gibson. “I think the store is fuller now, and hopefully, it’ll bring the customers in to see how new and improved it is.”
Apple Market is part of the larger Doc’s Food Stores and is the 12th Apple Market in the company. They also own and operate Country Mart, JB’s Market, Price Mart and Cox Cash Saver. Headquarters are based in Tulsa, Okla.
The facility had been previously owned by Carol and Kay Sheid, who sold it to Doc’s Food Stores. They began operation of Apple Market June 27, 2011. Carol passed away several years ago.
“We are so thankful for Erika and the community for their support,” said Doc’s Food Stores CEO Courtney Brown. “We wish Mr. Carol Shied was here to see what we’ve done. He was our biggest supporter, our biggest cheerleader.”
These changes were months in the making, even before the renovations began.
“This has been in the works for a year,” said Jake Shell, Doc’s Food Stores Center Store director. “We began the renovations in January, and are 100 percent complete. We finished with the major part of the renovations about a month ago.”
The renovations were simple: Apple Market needed an overhaul, a way to bring in new customers, or maybe simply a chance it improve offerings for customers they already had.
“This is to give the store more space, to give the customers of Newkirk and surrounding areas more offers, better sales,” Shell said.
For quite a time, there was a side office space that was for rent, but with no takers, Doc’s Food Mart bought the space, which allowed for the expansion, especially the frozen food department.
“We also expanded the frozen food section, doubling the frozen food from what we had already,” Shell said. “I feel the store is modern, up-to-date, ready to serve the community and outlying areas and able to give the best varieties and value, a good selection of product.”
Many community leaders who were able to meet at the ribbon cutting shared similar thoughts, in how it can benefit Newkirk, and not just as a grocery store, but also the community as a whole, to bring new customers to a small community.
“Our town needs a grocery store like this,” said Rhonda Packard, Newkirk Main Street director. “Our people support it, and our people shop at it, and this is one the nicest grocery stores around.”
Mary Austin, also a community supporter, is president of Newkirk Equity Bank, and attended with Gary Scott, also of Equity Bank.
“I’m so proud of it. These people have believed in Newkirk, and invest so much money into Newkirk,” she said.
O’Brien herself is the Chamber president and reflected on how the store’s improvements will help the community improve.
“It’ll help bring more business to the town,” she said. “Once they come shopping, they’ll shop everywhere.”
It really is about what the customers think, however, that will bring them back to the store, hopefully more often.
“I really like that it is roomier. We have more varieties now with it being bigger,” said Crystal Meadows, who shops at the store many times a week. “I really like the meat covers on the meat cases, and I really like the staff.”
The Apple Market renovations are expected to bring new customers home to Newkirk, and store leaders are excited about the future.
“It’ll bring more business into the town. We already have quite a few customers from out of town, but we’ll have more, now,” O’Brien said. “I think it’s great. We are all definitely proud, and I’m excited for the new store.”