Landhope Farms given a hero's welcome in Oxford
By J. Chambless
The ribbon is cut for the new Landhope Farms store on Jan. 9.
By John Chambless
There were other places to get coffee
and breakfast in Oxford on Jan. 9, but it didn't seem that way as a
large crowd gathered for the opening of the Landhope Farms store at
Route 10 and Conner Road.
The new convenience store and gas station has been watched closely since June, when construction crews filled in the sloping farm field at the intersection, raised Conner Road by eight feet, installed a new traffic light, and built the new store, which hit its target opening date exactly.
At 10 a.m., local officials and Landhope representatives gathered at the front door for a ribbon cutting, but curious drivers had been pulling into the lot all morning, trying to open the doors and being politely told the store wasn't open quite yet. It had been that way for days, as the store appeared to be ready for business.
“Everybody involved in this project made a major effort – PennDOT, the township was fantastic, Shorn Construction, every one of the subcontractors,” said Dixon Stroud, the owner and president of Landhope Corporation. Standing inside the store to avoid the brisk wind, Stroud pointed out the expanse of farm field across Conner Road, which retained the tranquility it has had for hundreds of years. Despite raising the site of the Landhope store by several feet and realigning Conner Road, Stroud was proud that the surrounding countryside view was untouched. “And I need to put up a metal bar for our Amish customers to tie up their horses,” he said, adding that hitching posts have traditionally been part of Landhope's parking lots.
There's a bit of Landhope history right across Route 10, where the current Sunoco gas station and convenience store was the site of Landhope's initial business in the area.
In June, as the project was breaking ground, Stroud had said, “It was a solid business decision to sell some of our assets back in 1999 when we left the Oxford community. However, we also realized that as we prepared for our new expansion, Oxford was going to be the first community we re-entered.”
The new location has high-speed diesel dispensers towards the rear of the building to serve large trucks on Route 10, with easy access to Route 1. The 6,000-square-foot store has a coffee and specialty beverage area, hand-dipped ice cream, a soup bar and a deli, in addition to convenience items like soda, candy and chips. Soaps and bath products from local business The Soap Bucket, and doughnuts from Wholly Grounds, are sold in the store.
Among the customers who arrived early was Claire Schorn, whose husband's company has been working on the new building since the summer. “I'm gluten-free and dairy-free, and this is about the only convenience store I know that offers those products,” said Schorn, who has been traveling to the Unionville Landhope Farms store. She lives in Downingtown but will be stopping in Oxford, especially for the store's soups.
Over the past three years, Landhope Farms has been working with the township. Stroud explained, “The process of opening a convenience store has become considerably more complicated since 1969, when the township handed me the occupancy permit two weeks after we opened. Things have certainly changed,” he said.
The store has been in the works for three years, although the rapid construction process has been a surprise to many residents. Behind the scenes, Landhope Farms has been weaving into the Oxford community through financial support, as well as product donations to many local charities. “If we can help, we will,” said Dennis McCartney, operations manager and a resident of Oxford. “Whether it is donating to the Oxford Women’s Club, preparing hoagies for the OAHS football team or helping stock the OAHS basketball team’s concession stand, we love to support our local communities in any way we can.”
Landhope also supports community organizations, such as the Unionville Community Fair, the Connective Festival in Oxford, Quest Therapeutic Services, Stroud Water Research, the Kennett Run, Unionville and Kennett High School sports, the Kennett High School Mini Thon, the Kennett Area Senior and more.
Chris Grove, the executive director of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce, told the crowd at the ribbon cutting, “I just want to welcome Landhope back to the Oxford community. As a business partnership, you are incredible, and we are so glad that you're back. So, from the Oxford business community, welcome home.”
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.