Shelves empty at Wellington grocery store

Shortages reported at other Bella's Markets

WELLINGTON, Colo. - It's a basic need:  people in Wellington want fresh food.

But grocery store shelves are empty.

It's the latest town in food limbo as 7NEWS continues to investigate the problem at Bella's markets across our state.

Denver businessman Sam Mancini was supposed to show up for a meeting Tuesday night  to explain to people frustrated they can't get fresh food why his shelves are bare.

7NEWS hoped to get answers too but Mancini never showed up.

The Stevens family kitchen is just four blocks from the Bella's market in Wellington. The sign may say 'shop local' but what's inside tells a different story.

Our hidden camera shows empty shelves, limited produce and no toilet paper at all.

"I would much rather go four blocks  than 20 miles round trip to do my shopping," said Travis Stevens, a Wellington resident. "But it's forced us not to when we can't get a roll of toilet paper."

7NEWS found similar stories at Bella's markets in Akron, Haxtun, Wiggins and Limon.

A viewer in Walden said the Bella's there is bare and they have to drive 60 miles one-way to get fresh food.

Denver businessman Sam Mancini owns all of these grocery stores. His company declared bankruptcy in 2012 and has been in legal battles ever since. In a statement to 7NEWS he said that makes it difficult to invest in the stores.

In Wellington, they don't care about the legal battles, they want answers.

A frustrated crowd turned out to hear Mancini speak at this town board meeting, but he never showed up.

And people who've had enough are tired of feeling their food is being held hostage.

The mayor says Mancini told him he hopes to have his problems addressed within the next month  and if he doesn't, he will do something different.

The mayor asked if he would bring in another operator  and he said he would consider that. The mayor says they do have other companies interested in bringing a grocery store here.

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