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A new beginning

After successful fundraising campaign, Jewell Market celebrates its grand opening

— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Anne Blankenship Garren Zanker, center, manned the big scissors and cut the ribbon Monday morning, officially reopening the Jewell Market. Zanker was surrounded by committee members and local dignitaries.

JEWELL — “This is a beautiful day for Jewell, Iowa,” Rick Young, Hamilton County Supervisor said Monday morning.

Monday marked the official grand reopening of the Jewell Market, the town’s grocery store. Young said the reopening was due to the hard work of community members who decided to save the store, which closed back in January when the previous owner closed several central Iowa grocery stores.

The community immediately began to formulate a plan to purchase and operate the store.

A Market Committee was formed. The group held a series of fundraisers beginning in April to help raise the money needed to purchase and reopen the store. They planned and implemented a series of Grab-N-Go meals at the market. Young said the first week, the group planned for about 200 meals. With cars wrapped around the block, waiting to pick up meals, they ran out of food in less than an hour.

“Finally it leveled off around 400 meals each week,” he said. “It was just unbelievable support. And it’s not just Jewell but all the surrounding towns pitched in, too.”

Rick Young, left, Hamilton County Supervisor, chats with state Rep. Rob Bacon before the Monday morning ribbon cutting ceremony at the Jewell Market.

The community raised more than $234,000, surpassing the goal of $220,000. The total included $154,000 raised the final five weeks of the fundraising campaign with the meal events. The final meal on Mother’s Day, brought in $11,627 in donations.

Mischelle Hardy, treasurer of the market committee, said a matching grant of $20,000 from Jewell Area Development Enterprises initially got the ball rolling.

“We set out a matching grant of $20,000. That first week of the Grab-N-Go meals, we raised $30,000,” Hardy said. She said the response really spurred the community to action.

“From that point on, (the fundraising) just went crazy,” she said.

Young said the market reopened about six weeks ago with a soft opening. There were a few bugs to work out, but Young said Monday morning everything was working smoothly.

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship Members of the Jewell community turned out Monday morning to celebrate the ribbon cutting and grand reopening of the Jewell Market.

“We’ve had some great support not only before the store open, but since as well,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for see a full parking lot all day and into the evening.”

The reopening of the store has been a blessing for the community, according to Hardy.

“It means so much to have our grocery store back in town,” she said. “We don’t have to go out of town, and that’s especially nice during these times of the pandemic.”

The store has been completely repainted and new shelving was brought in. Garren Zanker, who worked at the store as teen, is back, serving as the manager.

After cutting the ribbon marking the official grand opening, Zanker said all of the planning and work has certainly paid off for the community.

“We couldn’t have done this without everyone’s help. We laid it all out and made sure we had a map and followed it,” he told the crowd gathered. “And we achieved our goal.”

Leo Reiter, mayor of Jewell, was also on hand for the ribbon cutting.

“This is a great asset for the community. It’s been a long time coming and I’m really proud of the people that have been doing all the fundraising to get this done,” he said.

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