Administrator confirms plans for grocery store at former Surry Hardware

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: March 2, 2020 | 3:45 p.m.

SURRY – Melissa Rollins, Acting County Administrator for Surry County, last week announced that Andrew White, owner of the former hardware store building at 28 Oak Wood Drive in  Surry, plans to open a grocery store/local market at that location. 

Director of Economic Development David Harrison provided the information that in the proposed 7,000 square foot grocery portion of the building meat, produce, and other grocery items will be available, and that there also will be a refrigerated section.  He added that the store will be open year-round, and that White “would like to have the store open within four to six months.” 

“As many may know, Surry County has been labeled as a food desert for over twenty years or more,” Harrison said.  “I am very excited to see a grocery project come to fruition in the Town of Surry. I would like to publicly thank Mr. White for seeing a need and meeting it. This store will play a vital role in improving the overall health of Surry County citizens and will most likely stimulate economic and populational growth. A grocery store should not be considered a luxury but a necessity for every community.”

Rollins, in a prepared statement, said, “Efforts by the County to bring a grocery store to the community have been on-going for several years, and the fact that we are getting closer thanks to collaboration and coordination with the county, town, and private investors is exciting and creates a win-win for the community and business stakeholders.” 

“The retail leakage in the community for groceries and other basic staple items is astonishing,” Rollins continued. “The demand is here, but the product is not, so our residents are forced to travel outside the community to purchase fresh meats and produce sometimes with coolers in tow to keep items from spoiling.   A grocery store or supermarket would not only keep those dollars inside the community to help support quality public services, but provide job opportunities, revitalize the town, create a sense of pride and serve as a catalyst to filling other retail gaps like a pharmacy for example, which has also been absent from the County for a long time.” 

Rollins said that the presence of nearby supermarkets has been shown through research to help people maintain a healthier lifestyle.

“And Surry’s designation as a food desert is one that we hope to eliminate,” she added. “In listening to the discussion, from Mr. White, it was refreshing to hear planned concepts like a butcher, the use of Surry local farmers for produce, services for elderly residents, buildout of space for the other business gaps and perhaps a distribution area for a local food hub.   The Surry Community desires to be attractive to business owners who are able to foster new economic development opportunities. If we are known as a County that is open and business minded and concerned about the citizens health, wellness, and quality of life, economic development will thrive.” 

“Economic Development in the county is undoubtedly at the forefront of discussion by policy makers, businesses and residents and a grocery store has been identified as one of the primary business gaps by many citizens — our young population, to the young at heart to former County residents who have families and ties to this community,” Rollins said. “We often must reiterate to citizens that the County’s demographics are not attractive to retail grocery chain stores.  To this extent, Surry County like other rural localities across Virginia and other states are challenged to find innovative ways to obtain basic necessities like fresh food and broadband connectivity to improve health, quality of life and to promote economic development and community revitalization opportunities within their communities.”   

Continuing her prepared statement, Rollins said, “Through collaborative efforts, grants, tax dollars and policy provisions by the Board of Supervisors, the County has made progress towards a number of social, health and economic community goals including a farmers market, community wide health and wellness initiatives, broadband expansion, advocacy at the state level for food access funding for communities and establishing designation as a Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) community.    

“Broadband for all of Surry is coming; businesses are looking at our industrial park; we have a unique set of wonderful assets that we can boast about; our leaders, citizens, employees, students, alumni and businesses are passionate and take pride in this community and with collaboration amongst us all, the rural route to success is closer than we realize.”

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