CHESTERVILLE — There was a definite “Wow” factor when people walked into the new Duchess convenience store at SR 95 and Interstate 71 near Chesterville last week.
“Our regular customers come in the door and say “Oh, my gosh,” as they stand there and look around,” said store manager Billie Jo Conrad.
Conrad, a Northmor High School graduate, lives in the area and worked for the old Duchess store next to the new store for eight years. She remembers visiting the old store when it was a truck stop managed by her uncle.
Duchess owner Bill Englefield of Englefield Oil and Duchess Convenience Stores was on hand for the grand opening Wednesday, June 1, that featured samples of deli sandwiches, cookies and soft drinks.
Englefield said he and his brother Ben grew up in the business.
“We did everything in the business from pumping gas to driving trucks,” Englefield said.
Both Bill and his brother Ben are Ohio State University graduates. They purchased the store from their father Fred William Englefield III. There are now six generations of the family and many of the family members are working in the business.
In the 1990’s the company made a contract with BP for fuel supply. Englefield said BP has been a good fuel supplier. In the late 1990’s the company began purchasing BP gas stations.
Englefield said Duchess now has 1,500 employees in their 120 stores in Ohio and West Virginia. Three stores are in Morrow County in Cardington, Mount Gilead and at the Chesterville location. They own 95 percent of the Duchess stores in the Columbus area. The majority of the stores are also combined with BP gas stations.
They aren’t sure what they will do with the old Duchess store to the east of the new store and are considering several options.
Director of Marketing for Duchess, Nathan Arnold said the chain has been a family-owned business since 1961. Their headquarters is in Heath located in Licking County.
Arnold said several things are new to the store. They have one section with locally made in Ohio items and their deli is also a new attraction with some tables and chairs both inside and outside of the store.
Foods are made fresh daily in the deli and include salads, sandwiches, fruit and cookies. The open, 5,500 foot space in the store gives them an opportunity to expand their selection of cold drinks, snacks and candies.
Arnold praised Manager Billie Jo and the staff for their hard work in opening the store in mid-May and getting ready for the grand opening. He said there is a lot of loyalty with Englefield employees and many have been with the company 20, 30 and 40 years.