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Vowell’s Fresh Market will open Demopolis store

After sitting vacant for less than a year, the old Food World building on U.S. Highway 80 has been given a new lease on life.

Vowell’s Market Place, a Mississippi-based family-owned grocery chain, has a target opening date of mid-March in Demopolis. The store here will be named Vowell’s Fresh Market.

Todd Vowell, the third generation of the store’s family namesake, was in Demopolis Wednesday with crews who are preparing the store for its grand opening, which they hope will be held approximately 45 days from now.

The Demopolis location will be the company’s first store outside the state of Mississippi.

“We actually came to Demopolis when Food World was closing,” Vowell said. “We came to the store to buy some of the fixtures. We didn’t even have an idea about opening another store.”

That trip for store hardware proved to be the beginning of Demopolis’ opportunity to fill what would soon be a vacant lot.

“As we were driving through town, I felt like I was at home,” Vowell said. “When we got into the store – the store was still open at the time – the customers there reminded us of our customers. We knew that day we wanted to be here.”

Vowell’s Market Place was first opened at the conclusion of World War II by Todd’s grandfather in Noxapater, Miss.

“And that store, to this day, is still open and doing really well,” he noted.

Over the years, the family has added seven more stores, each in Mississippi, with its newest store opening in Byram, Miss., in October 2005.

“We’ve built our brand on the highest quality meats, excellent customer service and a large variety of fresh vegetables and produce,” said Vowell, who works from the family’s Forest, Miss., store. “We’re a very personable store. We think that personal link to the customer is missing a lot of times, and we really focus on that.”

Among the services Vowell said he hoped to include in the Demopolis location are adding back a bank and a pharmacy – services that were shuttered when Food World closed the building last spring – adding that he expected to employ between 50 and 60 employees, and has already been in contact with many of the displaced Food World workers.

Among other offerings at the store will be a deli, a bakery and an expansive meat department, which includes fresh seafood.