Bedford leaders work to lure new retailer as locally-owned grocer shuts down

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)-- There's a big sale underway at Vista Food in Bedford. Most items are at least 50 percent off, but it's no cause to celebrate for customers like Beverley Woods.

WDBJ7 photo

"Made me sad!" Woods told WDBJ7 Tuesday.

Sad because Vista is closing.

"Our son is the one who told us," Woods explained. "He said Vista is closing and I said, 'No!'"

Woods and her husband, Gene, said they rely on the locally-owned grocery store for its freshly cut meats.

"Their meats are the best in town and they're usually cheaper," said Woods.

Vista's closing will mark the end of an era in Bedford. Different local families have operated grocery stores in the building since the early 1950s. It's one of the only places in Bedford's downtown where customers can buy fresh fruits and produce.

"It's been a blessing, not just for young folks but for elder folks," said Vista customer Elezbeth Robertson.

Vista's current operator, Amit Patel, says he's leaving the business because he can no longer compete with big chains and online retail. He's also fearful of changes to the state's minimum wage.

The building is owned by Bedford County's Economic Development Authority, which recognizes the grocery store's importance.

"Without it we would have a lack of access to healthy foods," remarked Bedford County's economic development director, Traci Blido.

Blido told WDBJ7 Tuesday the county's EDA is committed to finding another grocery retailer that can operate in the Washington Street building.

"That grocery store is important to keep here in our community and that is what the EDA is working on doing," Blido said.

Longtime customers like Woods hope the doors won't stay closed for long.

"We're going to be sorry that they're closed," said Woods.

Vista's final day of operation is Saturday. The EDA is hoping to finalize an agreement with a new grocery retailer and have a store open in the Vista property later this spring.

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