First Goodwill Grocery store in the country will open in Roanoke

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The first Goodwill Grocery Store in the country will open in the Star City. Roanoke City Council approved a rezoning request for it to open on Melrose Avenue.

Eliminating poverty is one of the main goals of Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. Chief Operating Officer Mindy Boyd says they decided to focus on one community here at home.

“The Northwest Community, obviously, where our corporate offices are located, certainly came quickly to the top,” explained Boyd.

The organization plans to open a first-of-its-kind Goodwill grocery store on Melrose Avenue.

“First of all, access to fresh fruits and vegetables and meats is really core to nutrition,” said Boyd.

Currently, this area is classified as a food desert. Food deserts are places where most residents don’t have access to affordable, nutritious foods. Boyd says the grocery store will help fill that need.

“So, what the grocery is going to bring is two-fold, is easy access to get to that source for fresh produce, fresh meats, as well as a full-service grocery,” added Boyd.

Boyd says the grocery store will accept SNAP/EBT and FreshMatch programs.

The Hope Center distributes food in Northwest Roanoke three times a week. The executive director says some residents must decide between buying groceries or paying rent.

“But with having them there in that area it will really help alleviate a lot of the pain that the people are going through,” said Darlene Lewis.

Goodwill expects the project to cost roughly $30 million. Roanoke City is investing $10 million from federal COVID relief funds.

“We got some really strong and vibrant neighborhoods in that area and for them to be able to access those basic services, it’s like a village concept that the city is also focused on,” said Vice Mayor Joe Cobb.

Goodwill says they are partnering with MDI, a family-owned independent grocery wholesaler.

“They are a family-owned, independent grocery wholesaler. And what that company brings to us is a massive amount of training. They are already engaged with us on a weekly basis, teaching us the grocery part of operations. They are invested in independent grocers and making sure that they’re successful. They will provide each of our department managers with coaching and we’ll have access to grocery-specific training. They’re also helping us with the layout of the store and the equipment that we need. They are an amazing partner for us and having them really in the mix is going to be the secret sauce to making sure that this grocery store is done well,” said Boyd.

Boyd says the grocery store will provide more than 50 new employment opportunities. She says they hope to open it no later than December 1, 2024.