SMITHERS — For several days, potential customers have been pulling into the grocery store parking lot at Smithers, hoping to visit the new Grant’s Supermarket.

They’ve left disappointed, however, after discovering all the vehicles parked there belong to Grant’s employees putting the final touches on the business, which is replacing the former Kroger Company store there.

If all goes as planned, though, Grant’s owner Ron Martin says they won’t be disappointed much longer.

“We are hoping to open on Saturday,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “ We have a few little things we’re still working on … and I think we should be on track to do that.”

Martin, who owns the supermarket chain headquartered in Bluefield, where he also is the city’s mayor, said after seeing all the vehicles in the parking lot a number of people have tried to check out the new store.

“We have a sign up there telling them we hope to open Saturday. They’re stacking groceries on the shelves. They should be finished that today and the perishable stuff comes over the next couple days,” Martin said.

“It should be Saturday and it’s starting to look like a grocery store again.”

Martin, who predicts 15 to 25 workers will be employed at Grant’s (“It all depends on the volume,” he said, “but hopefully it will be closer to 25.”), said the company has had a lot of support from the community even before the store is opened.

He’s also pleased with the store manager, Seth Thomason, who “has worked for us since he was 15.”

Thomason worked for Grant’s in Mercer County and graduated from Concord University with degrees in business and management. After a 1-year stint at Hobby Lobby following his college graduation, Martin spoke with Thomason and asked him how he’d like to manage his new store in Smithers.

“He jumped at it,” Martin said. “He’s been up there basically from sun-up to sundown. He really has done an excellent job. He is really, really excited.

“(Seth) knows the way we run the store and he knows the way the business is supposed to be taken care of,” he added.

Martin said he’s looking forward to the store’s soft opening.

“I’m excited for everybody to come,” he said. “It looks completely different. It’s nice and clean and bright.”

All new check-out stands have been installed, a new office has been built, and new carpet laid in places as well as a number of other improvements made in what will be Grant’s 17th location.

“It really is a nice little community store,” Martin said.

The company will plan an official grand opening at a later date, he added.

— Email; follow on Twitter @Fayette_Cheryl

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