Opinion: Manchester is getting a new grocery store. Why it matters.
For those that may not know, Manchester has not had a grocery store in maybe 2 years. The former Manchester market left when structural issues to their building forced them to make hard decisions about repairs vs. ability to continue to be in business. In the end, they decided to fold up shop, and left a void in the village.
A few things happened afterwards. 1st. If you couldn't get what you needed at the Dollar General in town, you had to leave. Although the DG was fine for certain things, you weren't getting fresh produce, or most other grocery items there. That left you with the closest grocer in the town of Clinton, about 8 miles away, next the City of Saline at 11, Tecumseh at 11, and Chelsea at 13, just for a bag of apples, or a head of lettuce.
2nd. It left the downtown void of an Anchor store. That one or 2 bigger business that the majority of people will visit, driving traffic to other retailers to help keep the general economy stable. Think of a large mall when the JC Penney, Sears, Macy's, etc. leaves, how is it for the other retailers in the mall?
Not having a grocer was a problem. It was not only forcing people to leave town just for basic staples, but created a financial concern for the well being of the future of the village. There are some very nice small businesses, and restaurants on Main st. Recently the village in conjunction with state funding finished building of a park, and canoe dock along the River Raisin in town across from Char Park. Home to summer festivals, farmers markets, and other community events, this no stop light town has a lot to offer.
With an area population of 4,790 (2020 census), there are enough people in the vicinity that could drive traffic and business to the downtown. Maybe not tons, but enough for local business to sustain themselves and have success. Unfortunately that isn't happening like it could, plus I have to come back to the fact that the pandemic isn't helping.
Not having a market can also potentially affect home prices, and commercial real estate futures in the village. I had a conversation with one of the real estate appraisers in Washtenaw county maybe 2-3 months after the market closed down, and they had concerns about how the loss of the store was going to affect the market. This was a pre-pandemic conversation (we haven't had a market in a long time), and so there are other conditions affecting housing. But the reason why the market closed wasn't as important as the perception it gave not having one. If the only place in the area to get bananas was at the gas station, that's a problem (kudos to gas stations that sell fresh fruit as alternatives to unhealthy snacks, BTW). I won't begin to talk about decreasing the local tax base with loss of commercial businesses, and the trickle down effect it has on a community.
The new market coming is to be a hybrid of full grocery store, and butcher shop/bakery for a Jackson based restaurant, Doll 'n' Burger. Local Acorn Farms will sell fresh produce and have a Market & Cafe inside as well, so it will be definitely a new type of business for Manchester, but one that I'm sure will thrive and succeed.