Mini market in Gastonia offers oasis in food desert

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 4:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A grand opening for a new mini-market on West May Avenue in Gastonia is only the start of a bigger plan for one local power couple.

Mic’s Mini Market sits in a food desert but the owners are working on a plan to change that.

Monday was the grand opening of Mic’s Mini Market in Gastonia, the fourth company owned by Micholas and Chyncia Rodgers in the community.

The company is named after Micholas but even he claims it was Chycnia’s dream.

“The thought behind that was he had to come work here, so I said if I name it after him he’s going to come work,” Chyncia said jokingly.

They’re hoping this idea works because in this lot a little more than a tenth of an acre, there are supersized dreams about what the market can mean to the community.

The market that used to be here closed in March 2020, right when the pandemic hit before the Rodgers bought it in November.

“It was the store we came to all the time so when it closed we had to go to this one down here and it’s a little higher (prices),” customer Monica Brice said.

Monica Brice and Anthony Sharpe were happy to see a market return to their community.

“We’ve been missing it, the convenience, the convenience of the neighborhood,” Sharpe said.

In this neighborhood, there is a lack of options.

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, the market sits on the edge of a low-income and low-access area, commonly known as a food desert.

The closest discount grocery store is more than one mile away. The closest Food Lion and Shaw’s are two miles away. That’s why Rodgers said making sure produce on the menu was mandatory.

“We want this store to be a community, like a destination,” Chycnia Rodgers said.

“We want to have food trucks here, healthy food options so people can just walk out their door and get food that’s accessible.”

Sharpe agreed that the idea was a necessary one.

“This is the first store that’s tried to open in the neighborhood with produce and stuff like that so we need that more in the neighborhood,” Sharpe said.

The Rodgers says they plan to partner with local farmers, even have farmers markets and maybe one day a mini garden.

“Our vision is to possibly even have…a place where we can have people grow in the community, where they can come up and pick their own vegetables, that’s definitely something we want to do,” Rodgers said.

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