Grocery Store Delayed from Opening; Government Assistance Delays Cited

By: Lauren Schmoll Email
By: Lauren Schmoll Email

MIDDLEPORT, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A grocery store that was set to reopen in just a few months may not be able to open its doors at all. And it's all because of government assistance.

Donald Vaughan's family has owned the building on the corner of General Hartinger Parkway and Pearl Street in Middleport for decades. It's been a grocery store for more than 100 years.

"There's been a store there for so long, people are used to it being there," Vaughan said. "People count on it being there. Here we are. We need to get that thing back open again."

They sold the business in the early 2000s, and it eventually shut down. Since 2009, Vaughan had been working to get it back open.

With a goal date of March 1, that dream was just months from becoming reality when the WIC program told Vaughan paperwork was filed a few weeks too late to allow the store to accept WIC vouchers for 2013.

"We try to start this new business with already a strike against us," Vaughan said. "There's a certain population we can't serve."

Without being allowed to participate in the WIC program, Vaughan says the store will not be able to open, and that means the 30 to 40 new jobs will be lost.

"You can't open a new business and immediately rule out a significant portion of you customers," Vaughan said.

Vaughan says there are roughly 700 families in Meigs County that are in the WIC program. Vaughan estimates that would be roughly 20 percent of his business.

Mayor Mike Gerlach says a lack of jobs is responsible for the poverty.

"We have a high unemployment compared to the rest of the state," Gerlach said. "It's the poverty, really. "

Vaughan is still in talks with WIC, and is hoping the agency will reverse its decision.

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