VIDEO: Grocery Store Comes With Community< < Back to
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of stories from WOUB on Vinton County’s journey as a food desert, and the fight for fresh food. The series is being done in partnership with the Vinton County Courier.
MCARTHUR — The 12,000 sq. ft. Campbell’s Market which opened this month in McArthur was not built by a construction crew.
Campbell’s Market came about because of the work of many people, some who laid concrete and installed electric lines, but also others who used their voice and their connections to make a food desert an attractive place to bring a business.
The store was paid for with $1.5 million in incentives and loans to the Campbell Family, through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. That initiative got an earful from a now (begrudgingly) locally famous woman by the name of Rhoda Toon-Price.
But Toon-Price was joined by a group of business owners and residents who spent four years waiting for the right project to come along that would make it to the grand opening stage.
Campbell’s McArthur store, built right next to Vinton County High School, comes to a community that, even in the heart of a majority-rural area, took for granted how far they would have to travel to get basic produce and fresh meat.
“Not having the store…(we saw) what types of concerns we had in providing some of those opportunities for our elderly to get the groceries that they needed, the transportation that they needed,” said Vinton County Schools Superintendent Rick Brooks. “Having not had that for a while, I think that everyone is going to be stopping at the store and making sure that purchases are made to make sure our store will stay in business.”
The idea of a Campbell’s Market started with a conversation and a connection made by John Coler.
Coler is the owner of Shriver’s Pharmacy, which has locations in several towns, including McArthur. When he heard of the need for a grocery store in the area, he connected with a business owner with grocery stores in Zanesville and Duncan Falls — Rick Campbell.
Coler said he saw the need to bring Campbell into conversations with State Representative Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, who was trying to find a solution to the lack of a grocery store in the county.
“(Shrivers was) the only place that a mother could get baby formula, we were one of the few places that could do that,” Coler said. “So we just saw the need, not just from the business side of it, I mean, it’s jobs for the community, that’s another good thing, but just the overall health of Vinton County.”
Coler knew Campbell would understand what some corporations and businesses outside Appalachia don’t: the positives of moving into a rural community.
“People don’t realize the commitment, the just overall dedication of those communities to the businesses,” Coler said.
Vinton County Commissioner Jim Satory understood the dedication, and he saw it, even from the commissioners that served before him.
“Calling (state officials) constantly, saying ‘what can you do to help,’ ‘who do you know,’ ‘are there grants available,’ ‘is there any financial assistance, something to help us entice a retailer or grocer to come in here and replace what we’ve lost,'” Satory said.
And then there’s Rhoda Toon-Price. When she talked with the Healthy Food Finance Initiative, she gave the statistics of the Vinton County Senior Center for which she’s the executive director.
In 2016, volunteers drove more than 150,000 miles back and forth to adjacent counties, taking trips to grocery stores outside the Vinton County.
“If they’re in the western part of the county we usually take them to Chillicothe, if they’re in the northern part we go to Logan, if they’re eastern part we take them to Athens, and with the Wilkesville area it’s usually Athens because there’s no place in Gallipolis anywhere, except WalMart,” Toon-Price said.
With the new grocery store, she said the seniors who need help from volunteers to drive long distances will have a renewed sense of independence as they drive just a few miles to Campbell’s.
And with all the fighting the community did to get the grocery store there, Toon-Price isn’t planning on letting the store fall on hard times.
“Well, we’re going to encourage people to shop locally, I personally will,” Toon-Price said. “And I will encourage the senior citizens to do the same thing.”
A grand opening celebration of Campbell’s Market is set for December.
Read the first story in the series: