After going two and a half years without a grocery store, the St. John area can once again shop for groceries at home in a store that one could argue is better than the store that left town in January of 2016. The Stafford County Marketplace, anchored by White’s Foodliner, opened its doors to the public for the first time Wednesday with a grand opening celebration at the new store that sits alongside Highway 281 in St. John. White’s Foodliner will operate the store that will include fuel sales and an independent pharmacy, Stafford County Drug.
Under the agreement, White’s Foodliner will rent the facility and operate a grocery store in a building locally owned by Stafford County Economic Development. White’s Foodliner is a family-owned and managed business that started in 1953 by Joe and Frances White in Coldwater. The company is owned by Pat White and his wife Tonya who also operate stores in Kingman, Medicine Lodge, Phillipsburg, and Pawnee, Oklahoma.
Pat White Audio
Wednesday’s grand opening marked the end of an effort by the community to bring a store back to St. John, a journey that included many different community partners according to Stafford County Economic Development Director Carolyn Dunn.
Carolyn Dunn Audio
That community effort included residents passing a one cent city sales tax for economic development that was a key part of the plan to land a new store. Many local businesses and individuals also contributed in the effort.
In January of 2016, Kroger, the parent company of Dillons, closed the town’s only grocery store, forcing residents to travel out of town to shop for groceries.