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Johnson finally gets a grocery store again - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Johnson finally gets a grocery store again

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JOHNSON, Vt. -

Shoppers are buying groceries in Johnson, an everyday chore that hasn't been possible in the town for more than two years.

"It's huge for a community like Johnson. The grocery store was really our anchor business," said Duncan Hastings, the municipal manager in Johnson.

Flooding back in April 2011 submerged the old Grand Union in water, taking out the town's only grocery store. Until Tuesday, residents had to drive miles to Morrisville just to get food.

The property is owned by the Pomerleaus, who invested to bring a grocery store back to town with improvements to help prevent some future flooding. They got help from grants and loans. Though mum on the total cost, they said the town needed that central point again.

"People can shop where they should-- in the downtown. And for a lot of them, they don't have a car, five miles is a long ways away," developer Tony Pomerleau said.

Inside the Sterling Market, owner Mike Comeau says he tried to cater to the diversity of desires and price points in the community when stocking the shelves.

"I could put a store anywhere, but I really look for the community stores. I'm not interested in owning a store on a major highway where you don't see the same customer twice. It's more about coming and being part of a local community and bonding with everybody here," Comeau said.

The grocery store isn't the only thing new in town, though. Efforts were well underway before the flooding to revitalize Main Street. And after more than a decade of planning, securing funding and construction, town officials say this street is more vibrant than before.

"I think we've heard from businesses that business is picking up. It was a real tough two years when we had the construction project," Hastings said.

Now that it's behind them, with spruced-up streetlights, sidewalks and infrastructure, the town is hoping for growth.

"Johnson is open for business. We're looking for anyone who's interested in coming here. We think it's a beautiful, vibrant community that has a lot to offer," Hastings said.

A downtown Renaissance where a new store is just the latest step.

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