ITHACA, N.Y. –– For those with ties to New York’s Capital Region, here’s something to catch your interest –– Stewart’s Shops is making moves into the Ithaca-Tompkins market.

The move comes as part of the convenience store’s chain purchase of eight Blueox Neighborhood Market and Nice ‘n Easy stores from Blueox Corporation of Oxford. This includes the Valero Nice ‘n Easy Grocery Shop located at 1323 Dryden Road in the town of Dryden, at the intersection of Routes 13 and 366 near the NYSEG building.

According to a press release from Stewart’s Shops Director of Public Affairs Erica Komoroske, “(s)ix of the eight convenience stores will be rebranded as Stewart’s or Stewart’s Express locations,” though Komoroske said they were undecided if the Ithaca location would be part of the rebranding. So while the chances are pretty good that a Stewart’s is coming to the Ithaca area, it’s not 100% certain, and the details of what’s going where will be finalized in September when the sales agreement between Stewart’s Shops and Blueox is completed.

Although Blueox is exiting the convenience store market, citing concerns about the long-term ability for a smaller chain like its own to remain competitive, the company will continue to operate its energy sales business, delivering fuel oil, kerosene and propane and continuing to service and replace energy equipment including furnaces, boilers, and hot water heaters.

Stewart’s, which began as an ice cream and dairy producer 76 years ago and has since expanded into a range of food products and fuel sales, has made an aggressive push to expand into the Central New York market in recent years. The Saratoga Springs-based company opened 17 new or rebuilt stores last year as part of a five-year, $245 million reinvestment program. Another 16 stores are slated for development or redevelopment in 2021, including those purchased from the Red-Kap chain of stores late last year. Newer stores have adopted larger formats with a broader range of food and beverage sales, include hot foods and food made-to-order.

Stewart’s operates 345 convenience stores with 4,500 employees throughout New York and Vermont, with the nearest locations to Ithaca currently in Sherburne and Syracuse’s northern suburbs.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.