Marion’s new Ingles opened for business Wednesday and customers flocked to see the larger store with an expanded selection of foods, medicines and household products.

Officials from the Ingles company, the city of Marion, the Marion Business Association and the McDowell Chamber of Commerce were on hand Wednesday morning to celebrate the opening of the new and much bigger Ingles supermarket. Bobby Ingle, the son of company founder Robert Ingle, and Ingles dietitian Leah McGrath came to Marion for the grand opening of this new store.

It comes complete with a Starbucks and an Asian food eatery called Chopsticks Express, along with an expanded bakery and deli section. There is a bigger floral section too.

Melissa Leavell, director of advertising for the Ingles company, told The McDowell News that only the first half of this new and improved store opened on Wednesday and it is not yet finished.

“We built half of it and we will build the other half and it will be more spread out,” she said.

A wall on the far left side of the new store will be removed to make room for a pharmacy and a walk-in beer cooler section. The old Ingles store will be demolished to make room for those additions and other retail spaces.

Like other new Ingles, the Marion store will eventually have 150 employees, both full-time and part-time. That includes the employees who worked at the old store and the new ones being hired.

The Ingles company is still taking applications.

“We continue to be hiring,” said Leavell. “It’s a great company to work for.”

The area next to the Ingles Café and the Starbucks has an expanded seating area with free Wi-Fi.

“This is a really great meeting place,” said Leavell.

The plans that were submitted by Ingles to the Marion City Hall also call for more retail space in this new shopping center. Burke’s Outlet relocated to the new section on the far right side and there are possibilities for other retail stores to be housed on the far left side. Leavell said she didn’t know what those other stores or businesses could be.

But a gas station will be located in the near future along the lower end of the parking lot along West Henderson Street. The plans from Ingles call for charging stations so electric vehicles can be recharged, similar to the ones at the Tailgate Market.

Also, a Zips Car Wash will be located in the area near the bypass that was previously a vacant lot.

All day Wednesday, customers shopped throughout the upgraded store.

Ashley Paul of Marion said she was impressed that the new Ingles had special carts to accommodate adults with disabilities.

As for the overall store, she said “I love it. The deli is amazing.”

“We’re so excited it’s finally here with so many new departments,” said Tracy Cotton of Marion.

Cotton said she was especially happy that this new store will have more locally grown foods from all over western North Carolina.

For years, local people wondered if Marion would ever get a larger and upgraded Ingles like the ones in Morganton, Black Mountain and Asheville. Now, it is becoming a reality.

“We’re so excited to be expanding here,” said Leavell to The McDowell News. “We love our customers, especially here in McDowell County. We’re so proud to be able to bring it to you. Stay tuned because it’s only getting bigger.”

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