After a year of construction and waiting, a new and much heftier Ponderosa Market is now open in Pine, and its widespread collection -- everything from fresh-baked bread to many brands of wine -- rivals major grocery store chains.
The new Ponderosa Market, about one block north of the old one, offers the residents of Pine a bakery, coffee shop and liquor store in addition to an all-purpose grocery store.
"The community needed a bigger store," said owner Cindy Maack. "This is for the community."
The bakery features many items baked daily such as bread, muffins and pies. It has a more diverse meat and produce selection. The aisles and shelves are larger and shopping is easier than in the old, cramped market.
"I didn't even have aisles to push carts down at the old store," Maack said.
Soon the store will have barbecue chicken and ribs available on Fridays and Saturdays and people will be able to order cakes made fresh in the bakery, Maack said.
With prices comparable to major grocery stores and with a larger selection of items, residents of Pine may no longer have to travel to Payson for their daily needs.
"This store is the best thing that ever happened to Pine," said Pine resident Jean Henry. "It's something we've needed for a long time."
The new store offers extended hours, from 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday to at least 8 p.m. every night.
It is also much more advanced and convenient, Maack said.
"We have better entrances and parking for handicapped people as well as a 16-camera security system," she said. "The old store didn't even have air conditioning."
Although it has been open for a few weeks, the new Ponderosa Market is still a work in progress. Shelves are being rearranged for convenience and filled by vendors. A fresh-ground coffee section still needs to be set up. Signage for the aisles will soon be hung. Five more employees may still be hired.
Come May 1, when the store will have its official grand opening, everything should be completed and the Ponderosa Market will provide an improved service for its community.
"People go out of their way to tell me how great the store is," Maack said. "It keeps me going."
-- To reach Erin Turner call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.