By Dawn Hatfield
ARCANUM — The Village of Arcanum received very welcome news when Vikramjit Boparai became the official new owner of 201 S. Main Street on Friday, Jan. 27. Boparai plans to open Arcanum IGA in the former Orme Hardware location, filling the void of a full-service grocery store left by the closing of Sutton’s 86-year-old store in 2020. Boparai registered Arcanum IGA, Inc., with the Ohio Secretary of State on Dec. 8, 2022, and reported his wish is to open the grocery store by mid-summer 2023.
Village of Arcanum Mayor Bonnie Millard spoke with The Daily Advocate on Feb. 3, 2023. “I am very, very excited. I’ve had people asking and asking and asking when we will get another grocery in town,” said Millard.
After mentioning the prospects more than a year ago in her newsletter, the mayor remained hopeful but had no definite updates to share with the community until late January when Boparai’s closing was finalized at the bank. An ambiguous “no news equals good news” is all the Arcanum villagers had been able to cling to for what felt like far too long.
Boparai explained why he had been intent on finding a space in the village, stating, “It’s been years that Sutton’s has been gone, and people have to go far away for their groceries, so that’s why we decided to open in that location, in Arcanum. Another thing is that we love the community.” Boparai owns several businesses, including Ansonia Food Mart in Darke County. He is no stranger to the needs of smaller communities, stating, “Our grocery stores are mostly in small towns.”
Village Administrator Marcus Ballinger added, “Boparai is using Laurel Grocery [as a wholesaler] to help him out, so he has been working with some of their associates who are used to opening up grocery stores in smaller communities. They understand what items he needs to help him be successful.” Ballinger continued, “[Boparai] approached us several months ago and expressed interest in opening up a grocery store. I think he would have liked to have had Sutton’s, but that ended up selling. Then this building [at 210 S. Main Street] became available, and he was looking at this area, so he approached our Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), and started discussing with us his plans. He had a plan already in place. He knew what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it. He just wanted to come and talk with us to let us know and work with us as he moves forward.”
“To have a grocery store locally does so much more for our community—and not just our community—we have Pitsburg to consider, Ithaca to consider, Bear’s Mill area just up the road to also consider. I feel like, not only will this grocery store prove to support Arcanum, but it will support the outlying, smaller communities that are near us,” said Ballinger. We can only hope this continues to help Arcanum grow responsibly. Our mayor has been a great mayor, and she wants to see Arcanum grow responsibly with housing and industry. You’re not gonna attract new businesses to our town if you don’t have all of the necessary businesses in place… You go to the main grocery store for your big items, your weekly and monthly items. Dollar stores [which are readily available in Arcanum] are there to supplement and provide quickly-needed things. The stores complement each other. This provides an atmosphere for any business that may come in that we are ready and prepared to accept it.”
Under Boparai, Arcanum IGA plans to offer a small eatery inside the full-service grocery. “We will have deli meat and something like a small cafeteria, so people can sit in there and eat food, drink a coffee or something like that,” he said.
The mayor is also looking forward to the small eatery stating, “I miss that myself. Having that [in Sutton’s] was really convenient.”
Boparai continued, “We already applied for the liquor license, for the beer and wine, and hopefully we will have fuel—gas and diesel—along with the grocery store. We will have a promotion so if anyone spends more than $75 for groceries, they will get 20 cents off per gallon. That way we will give more opportunities for customers in the town, and they won’t have to go so far away or buy expensive gas. It should help a lot.”
Depending on how much space is needed for the grocery supplier, part of the 201 S. Main building also may be available for rent through Boparai. “If we use only half of that [open space], we can probably have a rental. One guy is looking to rent that space for hardware. Hopefully we can rent to him,” Boparai explained.
Millard pointed out that Arcanum is continuing to grow in other ways, as well, such as the nearly-complete Harvest Fields and the newly-begun Trojan Estates housing developments. Additionally, the old GNB building on George Street has just been purchased for the start of something new, and a pickleball court will be installed where the old tennis courts used to stand. Arcanum’s young Parks and Recreation Committee is also in the preliminary stages of planning and writing a grant for a community splash pad that would be installed at Ivestor Park and will apply again to obtain grant funding in January 2024 for the community pool.
Business begets business; growth begets growth.
Currently, the village is working with Boparai to establish the amount of electricity that will be needed to power the refrigerators and freezers as the building was not originally made to accommodate a grocery/kitchen, but Boparai and town officials are optimistic that the process will take only months and not years. Boparai said regarding the date of Arcanum IGA’s grand opening, “I hope in summer. If everything goes well, I hope in June or July. Again, it depends on [all the requirements], but the administration for the town, they are very helpful—I have no words to say how much they’ve helped me with everything.”
Ballinger recalled his move to Arcanum when he became chief of police, “When we first moved here, it was wonderful having a grocery store, and it regretfully closed on us. We were then back to going to Greenville or Englewood for grocery shopping. There’s mileage, wear and tear on cars, and sometimes you’re limited in the types of items you can buy when you have to travel that far to a grocery store,” Ballinger said. “I believe this is one of the great things we need in our town, and I am glad we are able to return a grocery store to Arcanum… We’re really excited, and we hope everything goes smooth for [Boparai]. It sounds like it’s going to.”
Millard said, “People need to understand the importance of doing their large weekly shopping there. That is the bottom line if we want to make sure the new IGA is successful.”
According to Boparai, Arcanum IGA will be hiring three to four managers as well as additional workers, which he hopes will assist with local employment. A website for Arcanum IGA will be created in the near future, and potential employees may apply for open positions listed there.
Reach Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at [email protected] or 937-569-0066.