Surry grocery store still on track, EDA says

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Renovations at the Surry Marketplace are still on track to finish by June, according to Renee Chapline, a consultant for the Surry County’s Economic Development Authority.

The long-awaited grocery store, which is partially funded with tax dollars, should open for business shortly thereafter, Chapline told county supervisors on March 2.

Surry residents Andrew and Sheryl White purchased the former Surry Furniture & Hardware Co. building roughly four years ago. In 2021, the couple’s proposal to turn the vacant storefront at Routes 31 and 10 into a grocery store secured a $50,000 state grant aimed at combating “food deserts.” The county has contributed an additional $300,000 in local funds via an agreement executed by the Surry EDA to purchase refrigeration equipment.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “food deserts” as low-income or rural communities where at least 33% of the population lives 10 miles or more from a supermarket or large grocery store. It’s been more than 20 years since Surry’s only major grocery store shuttered in 1999, leaving residents with at least a 30-minute drive to alternatives in Smithfield, Suffolk or Petersburg.

Much of the Surry Marketplace’s piping has been replaced, Chapline told supervisors. The building’s old heating and air-conditioning units have been removed. Bathroom renovations are underway and the building received its permit for electrical work in late February.

“It is an old building so there’s been some surprises,” Chapline said, noting contractors had uncovered some rotted wood that has since been replaced.

Surry Assistant County Administrator David Harrison had estimated a spring opening at the supervisors’ October meeting. Chapline estimated based on the renovation’s current progress and no additional problems discovered by contractors that construction would be complete by “late spring” and that the store would open “shortly thereafter.”