Historic local market owners sell store; employ ‘Willy Wonka’ tactic to decide on new owners

Sav McKee

In 1961, John Williams and George Weiland opened a market and grocery store at 3600 Indianola Ave., creating a local hotspot that for decades, and even present day, would become a staple in the Columbus community for locally grown produce and flowers, along with locally processed fine meats and dairy. Not to mention their incredibly unique selection of liquors, beers, and sodas. 

The ownership of Weiland’s Market was then passed down to John’s daughter, Jennifer Williams, and her husband and co-owner, Scott Bowman, who met each other while working at the grocery store together back in the 80s.  After acquiring the business in 2010, Williams and Bowman have made the difficult choice to sell it. 

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Photo of Weiland’s opening in local newspaper, dated 1961. Via Weiland’s Facebook

In a social media post to their loyal customers, Williams and Bowman explain how much of a time commitment owning this store was. “Since buying the store…we’ve completely devoted our time and energy to the business. We never saw the point of being anything other than fully involved, hands-on owners. The store has always been very personal to us, a point of family pride. It’s been about working hard with the Weiland’s team to make the store better and better—about proving that Weiland’s, one of the city’s few remaining independent grocers, could not only survive, but thrive,” they explained.

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They continued, “Our full commitment to the store has meant that we’ve had little time for anything else in our lives. This was a choice we made in 2010, and we don’t regret it. At the same time, we’re not getting any younger, and you only get one life. We’re ready for our next chapter, and the long list of things that we still want to do.”

In order to decide who they could trust to take over the business that’s so precious to them, they employed a pretty unique tactic. “Because Weiland’s has been so personal to us, we didn’t want to leave it in just anyone’s hands. So, we held our own multi-year version of Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (minus the golden tickets) to assess which of our team members would be the best able to take the store into its next chapter,” their social media post reads.

Starting April 1, longtime managers Daniel Phillips and Andy Rusell will be the new owners. Congrats! “Daniel and Andy are the best choice we could have made. They care about making sure Weiland’s continues; Daniel said he wants to see the store celebrate its 100th birthday, in 2061,” said Williams and Bowman.

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