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Morland gets its grocery store back

11/24/2013

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

MORLAND -- Typically unflappable, there was a time when Faye Minium feared the worst in Morland's quest to bring its community grocery store back to life.

Despite that dark moment, customers now are streaming in to the small store, where groceries have been sold for nearly a century. The store, owned by the Morland Community Foundation, reopened Nov. 2, said Ron Radcliffe, who was recruited by Minium to manage the store.

As a result, Minium can smile now.

"Oh, I think it's wonderful," Carol Anderson said of the store reopening. "Absolutely wonderful."

But with the opening, Anderson said she needs to change her way of thinking, and keep in mind the store's back open. That way, she said, she'll be sure to buy her groceries at the Morland store, offering her support for it.

Sherry Skubal, Morland, had the same thoughts.

"I think it's great," she said after purchasing a sack full of groceries. "I hope they can keep it open."

That's the goal of Minium and a host of volunteers who show up to help stock the shelves.

Retired school teacher Don Acheson has been there every day since the store reopened.

"I'm not an employee," he said, pausing from stocking the shelves. "I just volunteer. I come in every day, all day long."

He's quick to rush to the front of the store to help sack groceries and carry them out to a waiting car, no matter the size of the purchase.

Acheson's no stranger to the store.

"Years ago, back in 1956, I started working in the same store," he said. "All the way up to '66. This has always been a grocery store."

Keeping the store's just as critical, Acheson said.

"You take the grocery store out of the community and you have a dying town," Acheson said. "People come in and the first thing they ask is 'Do you have a grocery store?' "

Business in the store has been growing, as have supplies.

"The community's been waiting on this a long time," Radcliffe said. "I think they'll support it."

"It's picking up day by day," said employee Sharon Hickert.

All that's music to Minium, who helped lead the charge to reopen the store, even before it closed in 2006.

The issue was brought up in a community meeting prior to the closing of the store, leading to the purchase of the building housing the grocery store. Money to purchase the building and replace its roof came from the sale of the Morland schools, which had been turned over to the foundation.

The foundation then turned to a state grant available through the federal stimulus package.

All that came to a screeching halt, however, when it was determined the store was in a flood plain, one of the requirements for a federal grant.

It was a struggle to get that designation changed so the project could move forward.

"It's been a learning experience," Minium said. "It's taken the whole community."

But there were times when the prospects of the store reopening were gloomy.

"There was a time when we were dealing with the flood plain issue," she said, "I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel."

Today, she's able to see the light on in the store as customers and the employees bustle about inside.