New grocery store opens in Thomaston (Includes Gallery)

A cold drizzle and gloomy skies did little to curb the enthusiasm of those present Wednesday as Dave’s Market opened its doors to customers, marking the first time in nearly two decades that the town of Thomaston had its own grocery store.

“This is big for us,” said Thomaston Mayor Jeff Laduron. “We now have all of the necessities right here in town without having to drive to Linden, Thomasville, or Demopolis. This is huge.”

David Oliver, owner of Dave’s Market, has operated his grocery store in Valley Grande for years, and when the the town of Thomaston began searching for a means to bring food necessities to town, he was there to answer the call.

“We’re excited to be here,” said Oliver. “We’re glad to bring a service so many take for granted to a town like Thomaston.”

Some community members came just to see the new store, but many were filling shopping carts as soon as the doors opened at 8 a.m.

“This is just a blessing,” said Clarence Agee, who drove a few short miles from Dayton to shop with his wife. “We used to have to drive 15 miles to Linden, or even longer to Demopolis, but now we can just come right down the road, get our groceries, and be right back home.”

Oliver, working closely with the town and the Marengo County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA), spent an estimated $1 million renovating the gymnasium of the old Marengo County High School to make the store a reality.

“When we began this project, we knew how much this property meant to the people of Thomaston and Marengo County,” said Brenda Tuck, executive director of the MCEDA. “So many people have fond memories of this school and gymnasium, so it was important to Mr. Oliver that the building maintain its character through the renovation.”

During the renovation, the rotten hardwood floor was removed exposing the slab. Green basketball court markings were repainted on the concrete, the basketball goals were refinished and left mounted to the walls, and the original gymnasium lights, as well as lights from the football field behind the gym, were retrofitted with energy-efficient LED modules and used to light the interior of the store.

“This was a vision that the town of Thomaston had. They revitalized their Industrial Development Board, they really set all of this into motion.” said Tuck. “When the MCEDA came in, we helped the town in considering financial options. We considered USDA Rural Development, the Delta Regional Authority, and the Marengo County Economic Development Authority.”

Ultimately, a partner was found in Oliver, who was looking to expand his business into another area of need.

“Mr. Oliver has invested approximately $1 million in this project, has hired 17 people, and now owns the building,” said Tuck. ” but the parking lot and roadways are all still public property.”

A Community Development Block Grant totaling $150,000 was awarded to the town by Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs in November 2015. Those funds were used to develop a parking area and improve roadways, entrances and sewer.

“The public investment in the public infrastructure only represents 20-percent or less of the private investment here,” said Tuck. “That’s a great return that will continue to provide economic benefits to Thomaston and Marengo County for years and decades to come.”

Dave’s Market is located on Alabama Highway 25, just north of Alabama Highway 28 in Thomaston. The store is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. till 7 p.m.