ADAMS CENTER — The former White’s Quality Meats Plus store on North Street will be given new life through a new market and gas station scheduled to open early next year.
Craig Bennett, who worked various convenience store jobs before deciding to open his own, said he wants to fill the empty 8,000-square-foot storefront, devoid of equipment and even walls, with offerings of subs, salads, pizza, north country food products like cheese curds and maple syrup, basic grocery items and other goods. The new store, which has not yet been named, will also have a walk-in beer cooler.
Workers began installing the new gas tanks for Mr. Bennett’s new store, 13306 North St., on Thursday. Mr. Bennett said the market will have three gasoline dispensers, each one with two fueling points, under an overhang adorned with the Valero Energy logo, as well as a pump closer to the store with diesel and kerosine. Unlike White’s Quality Meats, Mr. Bennett will not offer fresh cut meats.
“(I’m) excited, nervous, but very confident it will be successful,” he said.
White’s Quality Meats served customers for years before closing in 2008. A Great American Food Store opened in the vacant storefront in 2010, but then closed not long after.
Edward J. and John P. Valentine purchased the building for $275,000 in 2013, but left it empty after the purchase. The brothers previously owned 18 convenience stores, including several former Nice N Easy stores and gas stations and the Chaumont IGA Express, and four Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop locations, but sold them to Sunoco in 2016. Sunoco sold the stores to 7-Eleven last year.
The Valentines decided to lease the Adams Center store to Mr. Bennett, who will own the business, Edward Valentine said. When asked why they left the property vacant for years, Edward Valentine said they had a non-compete agreement with Sunoco, which recently ended.
“It’s a great site that sat empty for three years because our hands were tied,” he said.
Mr. Bennett said began his convenience store career in 2010 working for the Valentines as a cashier at the Chaumont IGA. He worked his way up the retail ladder, serving as merchandiser for the brothers, which involved product selection for the stores, among other responsibilities; then to providing information technology support and then to overseeing environmental inspections for fueling equipment.
Before pursuing his own retail operation, Mr. Bennett said he last worked for the company Gaftek Inc. repairing fuel dispensers and installing point of sale equipment at Sunoco gas stations. Mr. Bennett, however, said wanted to be his own boss, and the former White’s Quality Meats storefront, abuts a busy intersection between routes 11 and 177. He said he also has family in Adams.
“(Grant C. White) did very well there for a long time,” Mr. Bennett said. Mr. White owned White’s Quality Meats before selling it in 2006, two years before it closed.