RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Today marks the official end of a longtime, Richmond grocery chain, five months to the day he announced that Ukrop's was becoming Martin's.
"Leaving the grocery retail business was a difficult decision for our family," said Bobby Ukrop on December 17, 2009.
He was finally ending months of speculation that his stores were for sale. Five months later he watched as the final Ukrop's store became a Martin's. Jim Scanlon is the company's Regional Vice President. He says Bobby Ukrop "had a big smile on his face. I think he's very pleased and like I said before we're going to still be selling a lot of his food."
The Ukrop's name is still on the cafe's and on several food products, but make no mistake Martin's is now in charge.
Scanlon says, "We're finally done with the construction and now we can start doing what we do best serving customers and selling groceries."
It took millions of dollars and the re-hiring and training of 3,600 former Ukrop's employees. Twenty-five stores were changed over in six weeks. Each closing for a week and cramming in a cleaning, fresh coat of paint, new construction, new lighting, bigger aisles, and even new food products.
Customers appear to be taking to the change. Eugene Doughty said, "I am impressed. there's lots of people around here." Shirley Wilcox added, "We think it's wonderful. We think it's beautiful. They've done a wonderful job. The decor is nice and one thing it is it's bright."
But Martin's Regional Vice President says the company still has more up its sleeve. "Obviously part of our business model is to have fuel and we're exploring sights and expansion sites right now. and we're in a position to move forward in a good pace," said Scanlon.
Martin's also marked the end of the conversion by donating $50,000 to the Central Virginia Food Bank to fight child hood hunger.