Cumberland's creative approach to lack of grocery store

CUMBERLAND, VA (WWBT) - There are some "food deserts" in Central Virginia, meaning areas where there are no grocery stores for miles. Nowhere is it more obvious than in Cumberland County. So this rural county has gotten creative to fill the void.

If you want to buy meat in Cumberland, you can only buy it at the True Value Hardware store. Yes, the hardware store.

"We're selling beef, chicken, and pork now. We have ribeye steaks right now, pork loin," said store owner Harry Upson.

Cumberland used to have three grocery stores, but they all closed. There's an ABC liquor store, but no grocery store, not for a few years.

"Buckingham had two stores. It's like a 20-minute drive. Farmville, from my house is a 20-minute drive. Powhatan is probably another 35 to 45 minutes to a grocery store," said resident Patricia Moorefield.

"I don't think you should have to spend $30 in gas to get a pack of chicken and a Dr. Pepper, when food prices are already so high," added resident Ayisha Lampkin.

That's why the True Value Hardware store started selling meat and some produce.

"It really helps out a lot. If you can just come here and at least grab something, it's a big difference," said Dakota Seaver, another local.

Then locals drive to the Dollar General store, where they buy canned goods and packaged food.

"Maybe some frozen stuff, bread, milk, stuff like that," said resident Shirley Hresan.

Then they drive to Booker's Restaurant. Yes, Booker's Restaurant. The family that owns it just started selling fruits and vegetables

"We're trying. We just opened. It's a new business, but it's doing fine," said Booker's owner Audrey Spears.

Local folks appreciate that these vendors have stepped up, but they still want a grocery store.

"Why can't we have a small grocery store come in here?" Hresan wondered.

One day, the True Value store owner said he hopes to expand to a full grocery store, like the old Flippen's General Store that was once across the street.

"He sold hardware and groceries and everything. Fertilizer out one end of the store and groceries out the other. So that's what we're trying," said Upson.

For now, these local vendors are Cumberland's only true value.

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