Late summer is new target for Surry grocery store occupancy

Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Surry County residents will need to wait a few more months to shop locally for groceries.

The latest target for issuing the long-awaited Surry Marketplace a certificate of occupancy is late August to early September, according to Surry County Economic Development Authority consultant Renee Chapline.

In March, Chapline had estimated the renovations would be completed by the end of June.

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“There’s been a whole lot of supply-chain issues,” Chapline said, among them the ordering of a custom-made automatic sliding door to fit the boarded-up entrance.

Surry residents Andrew and Sheryl White purchased the former Surry Furniture & Hardware Co. building roughly four years ago. In 2021, the couple’s grocery store proposal secured a $50,000 state grant aimed at combatting “food deserts.”

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. 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.

The county has contributed an additional $300,000 in local funds via an agreement executed by the Surry EDA to purchase refrigeration equipment.

That equipment is now inside the building, Chapline confirmed.

The certificate of occupancy date and opening date won’t be one and the same, Chapline cautioned. The Virginia Department of Health, she said, will need to inspect the building to certify it as suitable for storing food products.