Just a couple of months before The Hub started working with the small town of Whitesville in early 2015 as part of the Turn This Town Around program, Whiteville’s only grocery store closed its doors.
The lack of a local place to buy food, produce and basic goods came up in almost every community conversation. Community members reached out to “big box” retailers with no success, as the town simply didn’t have the population to attract a large chain.
But after months of seeking help from outsiders, a well-known local family agreed to take on the challenge of opening a grocery store in Whitesville.
What happened next is a terrific example of how The Hub works, and of the great power we see in helping West Virginia’s communities help each other.
The Hub’s Amanda Workman connected Dave Hodges (above) and his family with the some folks we knew who had embarked on a similar undertaking in Alderson, in Greenbrier and Monroe counties.
Alderson utilized a crowdfunding campaign to launch a community-owned grocery store, the Green Grocer, in 2015.
The Green Grocer stocks locally-grown produce, houses a full service cafe, and on occasion transforms into a makeshift concert venue. Simply put, the Green Grocer is somewhat of a hub in its own right.
Naturally, The Hub jumped on the opportunity to connect the two communities. Alderson shared their experiences with the Hodges, first time grocery store owners, through two meetings.
The towns swapped pointers such as how to get in contact with grocery suppliers? Or where does one buy industrial refrigerators and freezers? Dave took that information back to Whitesville and put it to practice.
The importance of this type of community networking cannot be overstated. It is at the core of what the Hub aims to encourage throughout the state, and the benefits of it are unmatched.
Midtown Grocery & Deli is in the works now with plans to open on August 1. We hope to see you there!
What struck me most, while learning about these two communities, is that not only did they take on such a foreign venture, but they went the extra mile.
Both began with the aim of providing a place where people could buy affordable, healthy food, and they’re doing that.
But now they’re encouraging their communities to come hang out. The Green Grocer holds events, and welcomes people to enjoy a meal at their cafe. Dave is working on constructing a deli, ice cream parlor and a seating area for the townspeople to gather around.
Folks can come to pick up some fresh produce, grab a cup of coffee, or a deli sandwich, and stick around for the company. What a great idea!