Bella's Markets in Wellington and Gypsum to be sold

Owners promises sale within three weeks

GYPSUM, Colo. - The owner of two beleaguered small-town grocery stores, Bella's Markets, says he is in the process of selling his remaining stores in Wellington and Gypsum, a relief for people who have been begging for the stores to be fully stocked.

"We anticipate that the stores will stay open during this time," said Sam Mancini in a statement Thursday. "Bella’s will have a joint announcement with the buyer once the transaction is complete."

For months, customers have been complaining about empty shelves once again in the only grocery in Wellington.

Last summer, 7NEWS investigated the Denver businessman accused of starving small towns across the state, following a 2012 bankruptcy and numerous legal battles.

Soon after the 7NEWS investigation, Mancini sold six of his eight Bella's Markets, but not the stores in Wellington or Gypsum.

"He does owe the town money in sales taxes and has been on a payment plan," said Jeff Shroll, the Gypsum town manager, who said Mancini is months behind on his tax payments. "When he sells the property, we will be made whole from there."

In Wellington, Mayor Jack Brinkhoff said he confirmed the pending sale with Mancini, but said that Mancini would not give him information on who the potential buyer is.

"We're very hopeful at this point, feeling optimistic we might be able to get a new operator in here," said Brinkhoff. "It’s been brutal. People here are very frustrated with him. I don’t know if it’s going to be a private mom and pop or a chain store, but we would take anything at this point."

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