Backordered electrical part delays Surry Marketplace

Published 5:24 pm Friday, October 6, 2023

A 400-amp electrical component that’s been backordered nearly a year is the latest delay affecting the long-awaited Surry Marketplace.

The project’s engineer, however, has found a workaround that should power 80% of the grocery store and allow the state-required testing of its refrigeration equipment to proceed, according to Renee Chapline of Surry County’s economic development office.

The anticipated date of the store’s opening has changed multiple times since Surry residents Andrew and Sheryl White received a $50,000 state grant aimed at combating “food deserts” in 2021 to renovate the former Surry Furniture & Hardware Co. building at Routes 10 and 31. Surry County has contributed an additional $300,000 through its Economic Development Authority toward the purchase of the refrigeration equipment.

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A Virginia Department of Health inspection is among the final steps required before the store can open its doors to the public. Chapline had estimated in July that the store would be ready to receive its certificate of occupancy by September.

“It’s going to open,” Chapline assured, but “some things are out of our control.”

Chapline said her office reached out to multiple local electrical contractors about a faster delivery date for the 400-amp component and was advised to continue waiting on the original order the county had placed nine months ago. The average wait time for the part, Chapline said, is estimated at one to two years.

It shouldn’t take that long for Surry based on how long the order has already been pending. Chapline said the last ship date provided to the county was Sept. 1. The county has not received a revised ship date.

The workaround plan to bypass the need for the component is currently under review by Dominion Energy.

Aside from the electrical delay, the renovation is roughly 92% complete, Chapline said.

Andrew White describes his plans for the store as a “labor of love.”

When he and his wife moved from Chester to Surry, he quickly realized he couldn’t find anywhere nearby to purchase fresh vegetables.

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.