Wanted: Grocery Store

On a recent trip to southwest VA, we passed a vacant grocery with this sign in the window: Wanted, Grocery Store.

It was definitely the saddest sign we’d ever seen.  The grocery had shelves and checkout lines, but no food or people.  We heard later that the store has been that way for years. Vacant and longing.
So, I can only feel so guilty for being so completely obsessed with creating a green grocery in my neighborhood.  It is all I feel like I am capable of talking about, thinking about or working towards. On a recent trip to see my brother in Austin, (on my vacation) I asked him to take me on a tour of their neighborhood market called Farm to Market.  We took many photos and asked strange questions to the staff regarding square footage and traffic.
Recently, Jess and I took a trip exclusively to look at small groceries in Virginia.  Our first stop was Greenwood Gourmet Grocery in Crozet. Greenwood has pantry staples and fun treats, many from Virginia, along with picnic items for your next trip on Skyline Drive, or a camping trip.  We even happened upon a wine tasting there with Kirsty Harmon, the winemaker at Blenheim Vineyards.  This was a happy place for me- so charming and packed full of beautiful food and wine.
Staunton has two groceries we wanted to check out. The first was  Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery, which has health food, supplements, and vitamins as well as produce, meat and dairy.  This region is so rich in agricultural gifts, the grocery can easily source from several farms.

Kathleen, the owner of Cranberry’s, bought me breakfast at the eatery and we talked shop.  I was so relieved that after nine years of being a small grocery owner, she said she’d do it all over again.  The ‘adventure’, as she called it, clearly made her happy.  This was such good news for me, as I am still on the other side of the looking glass, wondering what happens once you leap.
We also checked out George Bowers Grocery, while we were there.  This fun nightspot would be exactly where I’d want to hang out if I lived in Staunton.  Brian talked to us for hours in his shop, which is in a gorgeous converted school. He, too, was a very happy business owner, full of stories and recommendations and very sage advice.  Plus, he makes a mean hummus plate!
Jess with Brian at George Bowers Grocery
We are so grateful to all of the business owners (including Erin’s dentist) who have indulged our endless questions, and to ou friends and family who are so supportive in this great adventure.  Thanks to our wonderful neighbors as well, who have wanted a grocery store and are enthusiastic about its potential.  We cannot wait to bring it to you!