DENVER – The store manager of the Table Mesa King Soopers store in Boulder and the city’s mayor marked the official reopening of the store Wednesday by tying a ribbon together to signify the strength and unity of the workers at the store and the South Boulder community.
Dozens of community members joined the store’s workers, local and regional King Soopers officials, and officials from the city, county and state to reopen Store 33 nearly 11 months after a gunman killed 10 people inside the store on March 22, 2021.
“Like the strength of this knot, we are strong,” said King Soopers spokesperson Kelli McGannon.
The group kicked off the reopening ceremony with a moment of silence for the 10 people killed in the shooting: Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Officer Eric Talley, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.
In addition to the redesigned store, King Soopers officials said they would also be installing a remembrance tree garden on the west side of the store, planning one tree for each victim.
“These trees will grow to be strong and beautiful and serve as a place of remembrance, reflection and peace,” McGannon said.
King Soopers officials thanked the Boulder first responders, the community, law enforcement, the governor, Boulder officials and more for their response to the shooting and work in the months that have followed.
“You are neighbors that have become family, and together we’ve found hope through tragedy. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you,” McGannon said. “Thank you for showing us Boulder is far more than a place; Boulder is a feeling.”
Gov. Jared Polis said the store’s reopening marks a turning point for the community to move forward. He recalled the pride he felt in how Colorado responded in the days after the shooting after feeling what he called “a big gut punch” when he first learned of the shooting.
He acknowledged the emotions the day would bring for employees at the store and its shoppers.
“Know the entire community is grieving with you. Yes, today celebrates a small step forward that we’re building back and reopening,” Polis said. “…But grief is unique for each of us. Trauma is unique for each of us.”
After the shooting last year and the Marshall Fire just a few weeks ago, Polis praised how Colorado comes together “with love and compassion.”
“Today is a symbol of that perseverance. It’s the beginning of a new chapter,” the governor said. “Thanks to everybody whose hard work led us to this occasion and I wish everybody affected … well in the journey of healing that we are all undertaking and for which today is a very important step.”
New Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett thanked his predecessor, Sam Weaver, for his work during and after the shooting last year and paid tribute to Officer Talley, who was shot and killed by the suspect and was among the first Boulder Police Department officers in the store that day.
“It’s a debt we can never repay and we’re grateful beyond words for your sacrifice,” Brockett said.
Store manager Sheri Bosman applauded her store’s employees for all they have gone through during the shooting and in the months since then.
“We were strong in the beginning. We continue to build our strength. We’re stronger than ever,” she said. “All I ask for is peace. My heart is thankful we are back together with our Table Mesa associates and the South Boulder community. We love you, South Boulder.”
King Soopers awarded Boulder Community Foundation CEO Tatiana Hernandez with another $500,000, thanking the foundation for its work in the wake of the shooting to help victims’ families and other community members.
Hernandez thanked the company, as the foundation is continuing its work for the victims of the Marshall Fire. And she invoked the Care Bears.
“Their power came from their hearts, their love, and with it, together, the light that they shone would defeat the darkness every time,” she said. “…As we have for the last 30 years, your community foundation is here to walk with you and others on the path to restoring what can be restored and healing what can be healed.”
King Soopers Division President Joe Kelley said the store’s reopening “signifies a tremendous milestone in everyone’s healing journey.” He thanked the store workers – “the heart and soul of this building” – and said the company was there to support them in this step.
“Be mindful of how emotions are affecting you, continue to seek assistance when and where it’s needed,” Kelley said. “It’s OK not to be OK, and if you need help, our Boulder Strong Resource Center will continue to be operational to serve everyone.”
After the ribbon-tying, community members and University of Colorado Boulder cheerleaders lined up to mark a red-carpeted path for the workers to reenter their store for the first time. Denver7 and other media outlets got a tour of the store on Tuesday ahead of the reopening.
Reaction from customers, workers, volunteers
Kerry Cox, who worked at the Table Mesa store since 1973 and also calls it her home store, said she was seeing some old friends and making new ones at the reopening on Wednesday.
“My heart is full. And everybody here, we’re all family,” Cox said. “…We pick up and we persevere, and now we’re back.”
Michelle Weiner-Davis, a family therapist who shops at the Table Mesa location, said it was touching to see all the people at the store again Wednesday.
“There’s been a lot of grieving and I feel the fact that the store’s open again will give everybody a chance to regroup and celebrate the fact that our spirit is strong,” she said.
Kim Hartzell said her running group would meet at the store before the shooting. She said the new interior was “even more beautiful” than before after buying a few items.
“It feels so good to have it all open. The energy is so positive and everybody’s just so happy,” Hartzell said.
Margrit and Andres Staehelin, longtime customers of Store 33, called the changes inside wonderful and amazing. They came to buy some flowers and prosciutto Wednesday.
Astrid McDonald was very emotional and came to the store Wednesday to pray, buy a few groceries and some flowers.
“I’m still crying. … I got flowers and put them against the wall over there.”
Fred Morris came in to support the Table Mesa workers Wednesday by bagging groceries from another store.
“I said, I will be here for this grand opening and represent some of the Denver stores to let them know that we’re 100% behind them,” Morris said. “We care about all our associates. Did a little bagging walked around, greeted customers. We can come in this store again and take it back.”
Bonnie Fear, who is the K-9 crisis response coordinator for Illinois-based Lutheran Church Charities, brought the emotional support dogs to Boulder right after the shooting and was back on Wednesday.
“We want to show our support. We didn’t want to be here last year and just leave, like show up and not ever show up again,” Fear said. “This is our community as well. It’s our neighborhood, and we just want to show our care and support for these people. A lot of them remember us and were very thankful for us to be back again and just show the people we haven’t forgotten.”
Francesca Alexander said she was happy to see so many familiar faces back at the store.
“Even the woman that works at Starbucks, I recognized her. Just seeing a lot of friends and just the community back here. It’s really nice,” Alexander said. “It’s new, but it’s still like the same old King Soopers. It’s great. I think we’ve really turned this into how strong our community is. Boulder Strong.”
The suspect in the shooting was found incompetent to stand trial on Dec. 3 and was ordered to the state hospital in Pueblo for further treatment. He faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and dozens of other charges in connection with the March 22 shooting.