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‘Filling the void’
Nearly two years after Blanchardville’s grocery store left town, local residents open a new one in same location
kundert grocery store
Jim and Diana Kundert stand in front of the newly renovated Kundert’s Main Street Market in Blanchardville. The couple purchased the building in January and are hoping to open the store April 8. Previously, Blanchardville residents had to drive twenty minutes to a city with a full grocery store. - photo by Shannon Rabotski

BLANCHARDVILLE — After sitting empty for a year and a half, the halls of what used to be Emberson’s Market are once again filled with the hustle and bustle of daily life as new owners Jim and Diana Kundert put their finishing touches on the property.

The couple purchased the location (200 S. Main Street) at the start of the year and are hoping to reopen its doors as Kundert’s Main Street Market grocery store April 8. 

“We’ve been kind of in the market for doing something like this ever since it closed down,” Jim said. “We see the need for the grocery store.”

When Emberson’s Market closed in 2019, the simple task of grocery shopping became a trek for Blanchardville residents who now needed to travel twenty minutes to find groceries.

“If they don’t have something like this, they have to go to the town over,” Jim said.

Members of the rural community have had one overwhelming reaction to the news of their grocery store returning: excitement.

“It’s been nothing but excitement from the community,” Jim said.

For the small community, the market’s opening means much more than just a place to shop.

“Another thing that we liked when we got the place was to know that we were going to create another job opportunity,” Jim said.

Along with the market, the Kunderts are preparing to turn part of the back section of the building into a seasonal ice cream shop with a later opening date. 

“We like to stay busy,” Jim joked from the store, still in the remodeling process. “We always have some sort of project that we’re doing.”

Though some of the store will be reminiscent of its past days, the Kunderts have welcomed a few changes as well.

“We’re going to go with more of an open concept,” Diana said. Produce will be kept in shorter bins instead of tall refrigerators to give the area a more open and freer feel.

The store’s carpeting was removed and the checkout system updated.

Despite all of the preparation and work involved in getting off the ground, Jim and Diana have remained positive and enthusiastic throughout the process, but they have not done it alone.

“The renovation process has been amazing, the local support that we’ve had,” Jim said. 

After the pair posted the news of their purchase to Facebook, eight volunteers approached Diana at the Viking Cafe, which she also owns, and offered to help on the weekend. 

Thirteen volunteers then showed up.

“We’re very lucky to be in a small town because we’ve had a lot of volunteers,” Diana said.

From helping with cleaning and painting to pledging money for the initial inventory purchase, the community has stepped up in every way.

“The village has helped us out a lot also,” Diana said. “I’ll say ‘hey, I just need someone to help me out for ten minutes,’ and they’ll send someone over to help me.”

Though there is still work to be done, the Kunderts are excited to bring groceries back to Blanchardville.

The store will be open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Sunday hours, as well as details on delivery and curbside pickup, are to be determined yet.

“I think it was probably the last thing on Main Street that makes it complete for the village,” Jim said.