BELDING — When Sam Mason took over management of the Belding Party Store in late October, his first step was to ask a question of the store’s customers.
“What would you like to see changed, added or removed?” he asked.
Taking into consideration dozens of comments from those customers, Mason listened, and two months later, the small connivence store, located in the heart of Belding at 304 N. Bridge St., has witnessed some big changes.
To start, Mason immediately began adding new products to his shelves, from expanding his brands of tobacco products to introducing new craft beers, soft drinks and more.
“We just want to incorporate a lot of different products and be more customer oriented,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, giving back to the customer and giving them what they want.”
Mason then flirted with the store’s homemade pizza recipe, making changes that include a new gourmet dough with a new brand of cheese.
But the biggest of changes comes in the form of a personal service offered by Mason himself — delivery.
“I’ll deliver anything,” he said. “Not just pizza — soda, beer, wine and wine coolers. We’re just trying to do something unique for Belding.”
As long as an order is more than $10 in total purchase, Mason said he will deliver. He adds an additional in-town $2 charge for the delivery service and charges $5 for out-of-town deliveries, adding that he will deliver as far as Greenville.
Mason said he’s already made deliveries to locations as far as Long Lake, Smyrna and Big Pine Island Lake.
“I have one customer, an older woman who is homebound,” he said. “She likes to buy muffins, candy and cigarettes. She can’t come to me, but I can come to her. For the benefit of the store, for the benefit of the town, we want to offer something different. It’s just another positive thing for this town.”
Mason said he has been approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to deliver beer, wine and wine coolers from his store, but only he is qualified to do so. Purchasers are required to show proof of identification once Mason arrives if they are buying cigarettes or alcohol.
“It’s going to benefit the store and it’s going to benefit everybody else,” he said. “If that means they don’t take a chance driving drunk, then it’s a win for everybody.”
Mason, who previously worked 32 years in construction, said he has “big plans” to change the appearance of the store, from additional coolers to a new floor surface, to a complete redesign of the exterior storefront.
Mason said he’s also looking forward to selling desserts and other frozen treats once the warmer months approach.
“We’re going to have ice cream in the summer again,” he said, adding that he is hoping to bring in cream, milk and frozen products from the Nashville-based Moo-ville Creamery.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, Belding Mayor Ron Gunderson said he is happy to see the business continuing to offer new and improved services.
“We’re glad to retain business, just to have a business here rather than an empty building is much better for the whole community,” Gunderson said. “It keeps the focus on Belding rather than having to have people drive out of town. The store will do well, they showed that today.”
The Belding Party Store’s hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Deliveries and in-store orders can be placed by calling the store at (616) 794-0390.