LaCROFT - Steve Ismail hopes that regular visitors to the Convenient Food Mart location at 2051 Lisbon St. have noticed some big changes over the last several weeks. As the new owner of the store, he has given his customers plenty of improvements to choose from, including cleaner surroundings, more merchandise and lower prices.
Ismail said that his first visit to the store earlier in the year puzzled him. With such a favorable location, he felt that it shouldn't be in trouble. A closer look inside clarified the matter. He recalls seeing dirty windows and merchandise on the shelves covered with dust. The previous owner had not been taking care of the basic needs of the store, and in turn, its customers.
Ismail says he appreciates the customers who have continued to shop there, even during recent years when it was not well cared for. His goal is to improve the shopping experience for them while also convincing former customers to return and new customers to become regulars.
Steve Ismail, the new owner of the Convenient Food Mart in Glenmoor, is making significant improvement in the store, which he hopes will benefit his customers and the community as well as improving business. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
That begins with a clean environment, which is an obsession for Ismail. "The eyes eat and drink before the mouth," he said. Simple efforts, like regularly cleaning the windows and floors and dusting the shelves have been noticed and greatly appreciated by customers.
Of course, bigger changes have already taken place. Old coolers have been replaced with newer models. A revamped kitchen now serves hot foods, including subs, jojos and the signature "Big Fish Sandwich." Bread and rolls are even baked on-site, with special orders taken in person or by phone.
As a husband and father, Ismail says he understands the costs of raising a family. That is why he has dropped the prices of basic food items like milk, lunchmeats and cereal. Regular customers of the Sunoco fuels at the store's gas station will be familiar with the weekly discount of five cents per gallon every Wednesday. In one of his biggest changes to the business, Ismail has extended that discount to Sundays also, giving two opportunities per week for fuel-up savings. Cigarettes, beer and wine are sold at state minimum prices every day.
There are new services available at the store, including Qpay utility payment service, which allows customers to pay their water, electric, gas, TV and other utility bills at the the same time right in the store. Old favorites have made a return, too. Ohio Lottery games, from scratch-off tickets and Pick 3 to Mega Millions and Powerball, are back at the store as well.
Busy customers are served by a drive-up window, but Ismail knows that many people walk to his store. For both of those groups, he has asked the city to replace streetlights on Fourth Street, which runs next to the store, and to repair the road surface as well.
Ismail said it's all part of the responsibility he feels to his customers and the community at large, which he says has welcomed him since he purchased the business in November. That responsibility extends to the five area residents he employs. If he is able to turn the store's fortunes around, he hopes to possibly double that amount. "We all share the benefits," he said.
In the new year, Ismail says the location will be completely remodeled, with a new layout that will allow customers to find items more easily. All old fixtures will be replaced with new units that will make the shopping experience there quicker, easier and more pleasant. He admits that doing so will be costly, but hopes that in return, he can build the business while serving the shopping needs of the community.
Convenient Food Mart is open seven days a week - 5 a.m. to midnight Monday-Friday and 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday-Sunday.