Civic leaders hailed growth and renewal in western Independence on Friday with the grand opening of a grocery store, the Corner Spot, in the Maywood area.

Civic leaders hailed growth and renewal in western Independence on Friday with the grand opening of a grocery store, the Corner Spot, in the Maywood area.

“This part of town is coming back,” declared Independence Chamber of Commerce President Rick Hemmingsen.

The store actually opened a couple of weeks ago, the result of long efforts of IBS Industries, a local non-profit that provides work for those with developmental disabilities. The store helps IBS meet several goals: continue creating different jobs for its clients, raise its own visibility with a retail operation, give residents of western Independence a place to buy groceries and household staples within walking distance or at least without having to drive all the way across the city.

“That’s really what we want to do, show the face of IBS and our employees,” said Mark Simcosky, chair of the IBS board.

IBS CEO Stan Shurmantine outlined the long-running efforts that involved the city’s help – and even federal stimulus money – to put the store in the old B&B Drugstore at Truman Road and Ash Avenue.

Mayor Don Reimal grew up in the neighborhood and remembers the old drugstore.

“It was a focal point for the neighborhood, and it is again,” he said Friday.

Friday morning’s atmosphere was festive, with a ribbon cutting, hot dogs, some gag gifts – marbles for Shurmantine, said to have lost his while getting the store going – and repeated expressions that the store, just blocks east of Van Horn High School, means renewal.

“This is another step forward in the revitalization of the western part of our great city,” Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said.

Independence School District Superintendent Jim Hinson drew applause when he pointed out that Van Horn now has 900 students, up sharply since that school and six others were transferred into the Independence district two years ago – a move generally seen as the linchpin to the area’s renewal. The district is looking at moving its headquarters to the Independence Ennovation Center just a few blocks to the east of Van Horn (on the site of the former Independence Regional Medical Center).

“All this is about partnerships. It’s about the community working together,” Hinson said.

IBS officials have stressed that the store is not a convenience store. Although it carries bread and milk and has Wi-Fi and invites students to drop by for a Coke while they visit and study, the store’s rows are full of groceries and household items from baby supplies to party supplies to school supplies.

IBS still does some of its traditional sheltered-workshop business such as assembling medical kits, but it has also moved into areas such as recycling and document destruction as well.

“The mission is to provide employment opportunities for those with developmental disabilities,” Simcosky said.

The company has about 200 clients in Independence and Blue Springs but also has a waiting list of about 100, so it’s looking for other opportunities in the future.

Pastor Bob Spradling of Maywood Baptist Church pointed to improvements in the schools and the opening of other businesses as well as Friday’s festivities.

“Look at those things,” he said. “It’s fabulous.”


If you go...

LOCATION: Corner of Truman Road and Ash Avenue in Western Independence, a few blocks east of Van Horn High School.

HOURS: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.