January 27, 2022

Clark’s Market lives on

New owners say purchase won’t affect family feel of the store

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Dick Clark, center, chats with Ravi Meel, left, and Arun Aggarwal, right, in the produce section at Clark’s Food Market in Dryden. Clark ran the family-owned business for nearly 60 years before selling it to Aggarwal and Meel in October.

DRYDEN — After nearly 60 years in business, Clark’s Shur Fine Food Mart has been sold to new owners — but don’t worry, it’ll still be the community store you’ve come to know and love.

“We’re about the age where we wanted to retire,” said Dick Clark, 87, the original owner. “I’ve been working from 4 in the morning till 5 at night, six days a week for 59 years. All the kids are putting in 50 to 60 hours a week, and it’s time to go out and do something different.”

Dick Clark and his three sons, Mike, Tom and Brian, have become a staple in the Dryden community.

Dryden resident Jean German said she and her husband are long-time customers and remember Dick Clark’s trio of sons when they were just young boys.

“We’ve known the family for a long, long, long time,” German said. “They have become a community store, and I pray that doesn’t stop with the new owners.”

New co-owners Arun Aggarwal and Ravi Meel have experience running stores similar to Clark’s Food Mart, and were drawn to the fast-growing community of Dryden. They said it wasn’t just about investing in the store, but the family and its legacy.

“We never saw it as just a business,” Aggarwal said. “What brought us in more was this being a small community where everybody is so close and everybody supports each other.”

Over time, customers may see some changes and upgrades throughout the store, but for now, Aggarwal’s goal is to make the transition in ownership as simple as possible. Dick Clark can still be seen milling about the store chatting with customers, and his son Tom will stay on as part of the management team.

“We’re not going to make any changes where the store loses its historical charm,” Aggarwal said. “We still have the Clark family’s old pictures here, and the history of this store will not only live on with us but we will make sure it lives on after us if we decide to retire after 50 years, too.”

Aggarwal and Meel have been the official co-owners for only a month now, but already have goals to become more involved in the Dryden community than just being the local grocery.

“Ravi came up with the idea of investing in the community, possibly getting together with the schools to create scholarship programs for students working for us, and other scholarship funds to do something good in the community,” Aggarwal said.

Dryden residents Janice Stewart and Luanne Leger have been customers at the food mart for decades.

“We’ve enjoyed seeing them in here every day. They’re good people, very friendly,” Stewart said of the Clarks. “They’ve always been good about that and if they don’t have something in stock they’ll try their best to get it for you.”

Even as the Clarks retire and the new owners take the reins, Stewart said that won’t change her loyalty to Clarks’ market.

“I just want to thank our customers for the many years of support they’ve given me,” Dick Clark said. “I’m very grateful and that’s what has kept me here for as long as I was. We’ve tried to take care of the village, and I think they appreciate that. Now, it’s time for new blood to help change things and have those upgrades, and I think it’s a good thing for the village.”