Will a grocery store replace the closed Kmart at Bethel and Olentangy River roads?

Will a grocery store replace the closed Kmart at Bethel and Olentangy River roads?

Rosemarie Lisko is on the case.

The chairwoman of the graphics and zoning committee for the Northwest Civic Association board of trustees said last week she's been approached by numerous residents who want to see a "small grocery store, not a big-box one" go in where the discount retailer was until the closing was announced in February. It was part of the closing of 120 underperforming Sears and Kmart locations.

After receiving enough of those calls for a grocery, Lisko said she made a call of her own, to the owner of the Olentangy Plaza where the shuttered Kmart is located.

She said she was told:

"If you want one, find one."

So, Lisko said, she is trying to find one by reaching out to the Ohio Grocery Association, based on Dublin Road.

"The Ohio Grocers Association, founded in 1899 in Springfield, has served the Ohio Food Industry for over 100 years," according to the organization's website.

"The Ohio Grocers Association is a nonprofit trade association representing approximately 700 grocers and wholesalers throughout Ohio," the website said.

"OGA's purpose is to represent the membership through legislative and regulatory efforts, with an effective government relations program; to be the resource for industry education and communication; to work with industry partners and alliances to best serve the membership; and to operate as a professional income-generating business dedicating its resources to the membership."

Lisko is hopeful the OGA also can help find a potential tenant to serve Northwest Side residents living close to Olentangy River and Bethel roads.

She said officials with the association told her they would look into the matter.

"A grocery store makes a ton of sense there," said resident Tom Kasberg, who was in the audience for the meeting.

Kasberg, who said his mother still recalls with nostalgia the days when there was a Big Bear store where the CAM Asia Supermarket is now in the plaza, urged board members to write a letter to the Ohio Grocers Association endorsing the concept of locating a store in the former Kmart.