The world famous Jungle Jim’s International Market will be opening its second store in the former location of Bigg’s in Eastgate as early as 2012.
The Union Township Trustees appointed township administrator Ken Geis to work with Jungle Jim’s as they negotiate the purchase of the former grocery and the smaller stores within the building. Union Township will be the land holders in the agreement and will lease the property to Jungle Jim’s.
Jungle Jim’s director of development Phill Adams describes the unique store which has been a Fairfield landmark since 1974 as a multi-pronged grocery store centered around a typical American grocery with wings featuring a staggering array of international foods, fresh seafood, produce, meats, cheeses, wine, beer, and more.
The entertainment includes everything from an in-store cooking school to hand built motorized displays such as the cereal box mascot band, to "Jungle" Jim Bonaminio himself roller skating through the aisles interacting with customers.
Adams said Jungle Jim's has been looking to open a new store in the Greater Cincinnati area for 10 years and the company has been waiting for the right opportunity to come along. He said the Eastgate location offers immediate access to a highway, a large footprint, and a 30 to 35 minute drive time to the Fairfield store for managers. But what sealed the deal was the Union Township administration's willingness to work with the company.
"Union Township really stepped up to make this happen," Adams said. "Ken Geis was the right person for that job and we wouldn't be there without him."
In addition to the courting Jungle Jim's received from the trustees, Adams said the efforts of Batavia resident Greg Traynor also influenced their decision. The local realty agent created a Facebook page called "Bring Jungle Jim's to Bigg's Plaza" which quickly gained more than 2,000 members.
Geis said this is the largest purchase and lease agreement the township has ever made with a business and he credited the trustees for their efforts in encouraging growth in the township.
"The trustees have a very aggressive attitude towards attracting new business," Geis said. "This is another tool that is making us as competitive as we can be."
The Eastgate building will be larger than the Fairfield location and Geis said the store is expected to offer between 300 and 400 jobs.
"It is our understanding that Bigg's employed less than 100 people," Geis said.
Adams said the store is not hiring at currently as the store undergoes remodeling, but he encouraged job seekers to visit the company's website at www.junglejims.com or its facebook page.
The larger store will offer many of the same products found at the current Fairfield location, but Adams said it may look a little different.
"It's going to be a cool store, no worries there," Adams said. "We haven't really determined a layout yet, but we're aiming to make everyone happy."
Geis said he and the trustees are glad to see the Bigg's building will once again be open for business.
"We're thrilled to have them there," Geis said.
He said the final purchase agreement is expected to be complete in the next 60 to 75 days and Jungle Jim's will begin their remodeling soon after.