Big Dipper Food Wants Closed Store for Warehouse

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Big Dipper Food Co. wants to convert the former Bottom Dollar Food grocery store on the South Side to a warehouse and distribution center to accommodate its projected growth, the president of the company said Thursday.

Big Dipper Food, which manufactures and sells peanut brittle and assorted varieties of popcorn, is one of two entities that submitted proposals for the 18,000-square-foot building by noon Wednesday, the deadline the city set.

“It’s a nice facility and it suits our needs,” said John Cayten, president. Cayten and Marty Seidler founded the company in 2005. “We’re expanding and we’re in Youngstown already. So it would work good for us.”

In the proposal it submitted, Big Dipper Food seeks a six-month lease at $1,500 per month, with an option to purchase for $180,000. The proposal includes spending $500,000 in equipment and improvements and says the project would create 10 to 15 jobs.

The building on Glenwood Avenue would be in addition to its existing warehouse, Cayten said.

Business has grown since Big Dipper moved into its building at 50 Superior St., Cayten said. Sales grew 25% between 2014 and last year “and this year we’re expecting 50% to 100% growth,” he said.

“We’ve picked up couple of pretty big major chains,” including Kroger, and “decent-sized customers,” he remarked. “Their growth is making us grow.”

Valley Christian Church, which submitted the other proposal, is asking the city to donate the property for use as a church and community center.

With the proposals submitted, the next step is following up with the parties, said T. Sharon Woodberry, Youngstown economic development director.

“We need to see whether they can viably move forward with their projects and what their financial strengths are,” Woodberry said. “We also need to again take into account whether we think it’s got any future potential for job creation and whether it’s the best use of the building for the neighborhood.”

The city hoped to secure another grocery store to replace the Bottom Dollar Food that closed more than two years ago. The neighborhood had lacked a full-service grocery store for about a decade before Bottom Dollar Food opened in February 2012.

In addition to the Big Dipper Food and Valley Christian proposals, Youngstown also received via email a proposal from Karen Bean for a community service center. The email, which arrived nearly an hour after the deadline followed communications earlier in the day with Woodberry, did not contain any specifics, Woodberry said.

Woodberry also received a letter of interest Wednesday morning seeking an extension from Aaron Adair.

The city hasn’t set a timeline when it will act on the proposals, she said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.