Lone grocery store in Uniontown closes down

Published 6:57 pm Saturday, April 7, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

People in Uniontown are wondering where they will get fresh food after the announcement the town’s only grocery store is closing Saturday. Citing competition from a local Dollar General and the inability to operate the store at a profit, owner Mary Taylor said she had no other choice than to close the store.

“It has cost me a fortune to keep it open in the past year. I had to take out a loan just to keep the store running and pay my bills,” said Taylor, who also owns a grocery store in Greensboro. “I have had the store for over 30 years, but you get to a point where you can’t do it anymore financially.”

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According to US Census figures, 49 percent of Uniontown residents live below the poverty level, which the Bureau says is just under $20,000 annually for a family of three.

Taylor said the poverty level made it difficult to drop prices of non-fresh food items low enough to compete with a big box retailer like Dollar General.

With the store’s closure, and the large number of low-income residents in town, getting transportation to a grocery store that sells fresh food will be a challenge, with the nearest grocery store being in Demopolis, which is 21 miles from Uniontown, or in Selma that is 30 miles away.

“I don’t know what people are going to do. There are a lot of people with no vehicles” said Uniontown resident Dorothy Lawrence

“There are a lot of elderly people, and there is going to be no viable option for them. The town is going to be dead. I have lived here for 54 years, and it used to be a booming little town. Now, I don’t know what is going to happen.”

Taylor said she’s been trying to sell the store for more than a year now, but only one buyer showed interest and backed out at the last minute due to what she called “wrong information.” Now she said the store will liquidate stock by selling it for 25 percent off until the store closes, with any leftover items being transferred to her Greensboro store or donated to local food banks.

Taylor said the decision to close the store was a difficult one, as she understands the impact to the people who have shopped at her store for decades.

“We have had a lot of loyal, good customers. Like I said, we have been there for over 30 years,” Taylor said. “I would like to say thank you to them. I would like to say sorry. I appreciate their support over the years and I wish them the best going forward.”

Mary Leila Schaeffer, a member of Uniontown Cares Inc., a local advocacy group, does not know where residents go from here in gaining easy access to healthy, fresh food.

“I can’t imagine what the resolution will be to fix this. I consider this to be a very serious situation,” Schaeffer said. “I never remember a time here without a grocery store. Uniontown has some problems, and this will certainly be one of them. I personally think it is devastating.”