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A grand opening
Crowds pack into Springfields newest supermarket
marsha boyd-sherri williams
Sherri Williams rings up Marsha Boyd’s purchases as one of the first shoppers in the new store. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

As shoppers grabbed carts and eagerly waited to start combing through the aisles, Sean Dubois couldn’t wait to get going either.

The new Harvey’s Supermarket in Springfield officially opened Wednesday morning, as people packed an overflowing parking lot and the store.

“We’re ready to get on with it,” said Dubois, the store manager who spent 20 years in the Publix chain before coming to Harvey’s.

While Dubois and his team of nearly 80 employees were ready to open at Tuesday night’s pep rally and sneak peek, some area residents have been waiting a lot longer for something like this.

“It is wonderful,” said Ola Mae Jones. “It’s been a long time in coming, but it’s finally here.”

Ola Mae and her husband Hope, at the head of a long line of shoppers, live in Shawnee and have had to shop for groceries in Rincon. Now, they have a large store closer to home.

“They don’t have to go out of town (to shop),”she said. “This is the store here. It is close.”

Shoppers jammed the parking lot, even parking on the side of Highway 21, throughout the day. The opening ended up being the biggest, in terms of sales, in franchise history.

It’s also more than the new place to shop that has city leaders beaming.

“I look on this as very positive for the growth of Springfield,” said Mayor Barton Alderman. “This opens a commercial corridor on the Highway 21 bypass. We look for more things to come to Springfield Station. I look at this as a beginning.”

Alderman also noted the “shop local” push has a Springfield tone to it.

“We have programs aimed at keeping business in Effingham,” he said. “This is even a little more central by keeping it in Springfield.”

The store is 34,000 square feet and has a drive-through pharmacy, a full deli and bakery and a hot bar. It’s the 70th store for the franchise, which began in the south central Georgia town of Nashville and was acquired by North Carolina-based Food Lion six years ago.

It didn’t take long for the crew to get everything ready for the wave of customers.

“We didn’t come into the store and start setting up until Nov. 30,” Dubois said.