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Grand Opening: Melon Vine



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Natalie Newland, Melon Days Queen takes the scissors in hand to officially open the newly remodeled Melon Vine Store in Green River.

The Melon Vine in Green River held its grand opening on Nov. 14 and 15 to celebrate the newly remodeled and expanded store. The store is one of the 500 owned by independent grocers in the Intermountain West. Associated Foods personnel were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony as well as store employees, towns people and Mayor Glen Dale Johnson and city council members.
A short program highlighted the expansion project and the dedication of those involved. Bill Walley, from Associated mentioned how grateful they were to share in the creation of what you see today. “We recognize your love for Green River and your desire for the community to have something to be proud of and a place to shop at home.” The renovation process spanned a three year period where the dream became a realty. Penney and Duane Riches purchased the Melon Vine in 1983. The store has expanded from a 5,000 square foot facility to 12,000 square feet with the completion of the project.
Walley explained that the “Big Boys” are not interested in small locations in outlying rural communities like Green River. But, Associated Foods fills the need of these independent retailers. Walley commented on the phenomenal job the contractors did and how he was excited to be a part of the project.
Duane Riches thanked his parents and wife, Penney, for their love and support. He thanked Associated Foods for giving him the chance to offer competitive prices on groceries. He also mentioned how they are catering to their Hispanic customers with a store guide in Spanish and an expanded line of Hispanic products. He thanked the Quarnbergs for their work on the project and the professional job they did in making sure things were done correctly.
Riches thanked his employees for putting up with him these past months as the project progressed and he was ornery at times. “We wouldn’t be here without the support of the town and we hope to serve your needs for the next 20 years.” Riches said he appreciated the help he received from Zions Bank in financing the project. Riches said he appreciated the support of the vendors who make the deliveries to the store. “My wife Penney and I are a team and do everything together from working in the store to riding the mules. I couldn’t have done it without her support and the support of our family,” said Riches.

Shoppers look over the newly remodeled store.

Mayor Johnson said the store has come a long way since he moved to Green River when it was operated by Betty Smith in the mid-50s. “Duane is a good businessman here in Green River, he is always there to help out in the community and at the schools. I don’t think there is a bigger supporter of the Green River Pirates. It is a great store and on behalf of Green River City we hope you go another 20 or 40 years. Thank you for your contributions,” said Mayor Johnson.
It was also mentioned how a lot of the businesses in Green River are owned by absentee owners and how the Riches have invested money in the Green River economy which will circulate throughout the community. Groceries can be purchased in Green River as cheaply as they can be in Price. It was also mentioned that Associated couldn’t get Riches to raise his margins on the groceries, because he wants to give the customers the best deal possible. It is a big store for a small town like Green River.
The contractors said they were pleased with how the project turned out and it was good to work in the community and they hope to keep building for years to come.
Associated Foods is held together by the fabric of people. In Salt Lake City, 60 years ago a group of people got together to compete with the chain stores and formed a cooperative. Couples like Duane and Penney, 520 strong have ownership in the supplier and Associated has grown to double the size of chains like Albertsons and Smiths. Associated ships to seven states from a huge warehouse facility.
Riches said he is glad the project is complete and it turned out better than he imagined and the contractor did a good job. Riches said he enjoys working with the people in the community and visiting with them. When they first bought the store 20 years ago, they didn’t have any prior grocery store experience and the previous owner supplied 15 days of training afterwhich the Riches were on their own. “It’s been 20 years of on the job training and learning. We take a lot of special orders to get the products that the people need. Our local people keep us going. We try to maintain a clean country atmosphere. We’ve named the aisles in the store for the different city streets. We’re part of this community,” said Riches.

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