Promoting a grocery in Surry

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

County weighs building a store

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

SURRY — The Surry County Board of Supervisors is looking to use money from its reserves to build a grocery store building, which would then be leased to a grocer, according to a presentation Thursday.

The store, currently dubbed as the “Surry Supervalu” would rely on Supervalu, a grocery wholesaler based in Minnesota, according to Melissa Rollins, Surry County assistant county administrator. 

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Supervalu, in turn, would work with as yet unnamed retailer to provide fresh meat, produce and other groceries to Surry residents, said Surry County Administrator Tyrone Franklin. 

The visual rendition of the store showed a retail strip with an anchor grocery store flanked by smaller retail shops. 

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“I hope the majority of the audience was excited when they saw this picture,” said Rollins, adding that the county hasn’t had a full-service grocery store in more than two decades. 

Supervalu is the company that recently sold off its Farm Fresh stores in Virginia. 

The proposed 13,500 square foot retail grocery store could also include a community room, which could be rented and used for meetings and other functions, said Rollins. 

The grocery store itself would cost an estimated $3.4 million, with an additional $1 million for the smaller retail stores and $84,000 to add the community room, according to the presentation.

In turn, the grocery store would generate from $464,904 to $471,384 in sales tax revenues, lease payments and wages, based on average weekly sales from $5 to $4 per square foot, according to the presentation. 

It would take about seven years to yield a return on the investment, according to the presentation. 

Rollins said other funding sources are a possibility, including the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund, a public-private partnership that provides flexible loan and grant financing for supermarket development and other venues for fresh foods, according to its website. 

The grocery store could potentially provide eight full-time and 20 part-time jobs. 

Rollins said the county is in a good financial position and by July 2019, should have about $10.5 million in its reserves. 

A portion of those reserves can be used for the project, said Rollins, adding that no tax increase is proposed for the fiscal 2019 operating and capital budget. 

“Some communities simply must do more than others,” she said of having access to fresh meat and produce. 

Surry District Supervisor John Seward recused himself from the discussion as property part of his mother’s estate is being considered as the site of the proposed grocery store. 

Currently, Surry residents must travel to either Williamsburg, Smithfield, Hopewell or Wakefield to shop at a full-service grocery store. 

“We want to say Surry County has a grocery store,” said Rollins, adding that it would also add to an improved perception of the county. 

The Board asked residents to consider the proposal and return to a continued meeting on May 10 to provide feedback.