Rebuilding Town's Only Convenience Store Boosts Chapman
Ask any principal who runs the school, it's the secretary. But Rhonda Husmann can't do it without her Diet Coke from the local Pump & Pantry.
"If I didn't show up in the morning to get fountain pop every morning, they were calling to
find out if I was okay," she said with a laugh.
But on May 23, it was Rhonda checking to see if they were okay when she heard her school custodian, also the volunteer fire chief, run to a fire at the Pump & Pantry.
Husmann said it was a devastating loss for the tiny town. "It was life altering for people in Chapman," she said.
In a town like Chapman, the Pump & Pantry isn't just a convenience store, it's the only store. At at a dozen miles away, trips to Grand Island have added up quickly.
Husmann said, "It's 24 miles if you go into town to the closest Pump & Pantry and back. I know farmers miss diesel fuel for trucks and you have to drive to Marquette or Central City to get fuel."
Residents worried the Bosselman company would write it off as a loss, but after four months of dealing with insurance, they're rebuilding.
Marketing Director Stephanie-King Witt said, "We've had a lot of phone calls and questions from folks in Chapman wondering if and when we were going to rebuild the store so we're excited today's the day to break ground and build it back up."
Husmann said the store has been a big supporter of the school, and she said everyone in town stops by to chat and pick up a few items.
Residents will be rewarded for their patience with a new store concept.
King-Witt said, "You'll see a lot of different things on the front of it, a turret and different look to windows and inside we'll have a coffee bar so it's a great time to roll out the design since we're building here anyway."
The front of the store will also feature a new mascot, a dog named Bones, who is currently mascot for the Bosselman-owned Danger arena football team.
King-Witt said the company is excited to rebuild in Chapman.
"We're thankful for the support of customers here in Chapman and the nearest Pump & Pantry is in Grand Island or Central City so I know it's been a challenge to go to one of the other to get necessities or pop and snacks and fuel," she said.
The wait is almost over, as workers move dirt on site. Rhonda Husmann was excited to see the design unveiled on NTV, as she shared the news article with co-workers at the Chapman school.
She said, "We're all very happy. I'm happy to see that they're doing something."
Meanwhile, Husmann relies on co-workers, including her school principal to satisfy her Diet Coke fix.
"Now our pops get delivered by teachers in Grand Island or the principal from St. Libory, so we have been surviving but it hasn't been anything like stopping in and checking in," she said.
Chapman has a school and a post office plus a steakhouse and this convenience store.
If all goes well, it could be open by January.