Shoppers in Herrin now have another option for their grocery needs.
Bottom Dollar Cost Plus opened a 15,000-square foot store Wednesday in Herrin and owner Tom Schmutz has made an agreement with Du Quoin to open another store in the city's old Kroger building.
"It's got cheap grocery prices, cheap supermarket prices like an Aldi's-type store, but what makes us different is we carry all name-brand products," Schmutz said. "We don't have second label products in our store."
The Herrin store is the second Bottom Dollar Cost Plus store Schmutz has opened in Illinois.
"I've got one of these stores in Lebanon," Schmutz said. "It doubled in sales the first year. Then we were up again the next year after that."
He also owns three traditional supermarkets in Illinois -- Tom's Supermarket in Brighton, Tom's Priced Right Foods in McLeansboro and Tom's Mad Pricer in West Frankfort.
Opening a grocery store is not a small project. The Herrin store has been a year in the making.
"It's a huge undertaking," Schmutz. "I've done this probably 20 times in my life, and I've actually built them from the ground up. So it takes a coordinated effort from a lot of people, a lot of suppliers and some of my key management staff that run the stores."
The Herrin store will employ 45 people and Schmutz said he expects to hire 60 to 65 for the Du Quoin store, which is almost twice as large as the one that opened in Herrin.
Anyone wishing to apply for a job in the Du Quoin store can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Du Quoin has provided Schmutz a $50,000 loan and a $130,000 sales tax-business district allocation. The allocation works like a TIF agreement, except the increment is based on sales tax revenue and not property tax revenue.
The Kroger store shut down last year after operating in Du Quoin for 99 years, leaving a hole in the Southtowne Shopping Center.
"When you lose a business like that, it impacts the community in terms of jobs and competition," Du Quoin Mayor Rex Duncan said.
Du Quoin is eager to welcome to town the volume-buying grocery store that offers fresh produce and cuts fresh meat.
"It's a huge addition," Duncan said. "It's really a big deal to us. The folks who own that group of stores are really terrific people. They're Southern Illinoisans. I think they're going to be such great assets to our community."
Two other stores, Label Shoppers and Dollar Tree, will also be moving into the Southtowne Shopping Center.