Little girl helping mother shop for produce in grocery store

As Longwood and Farmville planners have been forging their common future, it's been on almost everyone's wish list: a boutique market, focused on selling fresh food, and situated within easy walking distance of campus and Main Street.

That vision is taking steps closer to reality. The Longwood Office of Community and Economic Development and the Farmville Downtown Partnership have been working with a market analysis and strategic planning firm to recruit a boutique grocery to Midtown Square in the current site of the Longwood book store, which will be moving shortly to the corner of Third and Main Streets in the heart of downtown.

An initial feasibility study on the grocery store project recently conducted by the Farmville Downtown Partnership pointed to the potential viability of a small, boutique-style market that focused on selling fresh foods.

Now, at least one company in the boutique grocery space has expressed serious interest in the idea, and the project is entering an important next phase with a series of town hall-style listening forums to solicit public input.

"We are working on a compressed time frame to take advantage of some of the great momentum Farmville has right now," said Pulse Group partner Kim Royster, who is leading market analysis for the project. "We are eager to hear from as many members of the community as possible in the week ahead to shape our evaluation of the viability of a downtown store or market. This is a project that is important to the community, so we are creating ample opportunities to hear every perspective."

"We are here to help capture a vision that includes products, pricing and format that fits the needs of the community and will be embraced by area shoppers," said Royster. "To do that, we need as many perspectives as possible so our market research can be as accurate as possible.

Sheri McGuire, Longwood's associate vice president for community and economic development and executive director of Longwood's Small Business Development Center, said that working to attract a boutique grocery to the site has emerged as a top priority, and the recruiting effort has become a strong example of what can be achieved when the university, town of Farmville and groups like Farmville Downtown Partnership work together.

"We're still at an initial stage, and those with a potential interest understandably have some homework to do," McGuire said. "But we're excited that the interest is real, and hopefully in the years to come this location will be part of a broad array of grocery and food options sprouting up around Farmville as befitting a thriving college-town community. As the project moves forward, the community input that will be gathered by the consulting group next week will be vital to bringing in the right partner who can meet the demand that exists in Farmville."

"These open sessions are an excellent time for community members to share their ideas and opinions about the possible new development of grocery stores in the area," said Farmville mayor David Whitus. "It's certain that we all would like more grocery options, but the question is what those options look like and which ones the community can best support economically."

The Pulse Group will facilitate four town hall-style forums and meet with varied community groups and organizations next week to gather input. Meetings are open, with no signup required.

Town Hall Forums:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 9: 4-5:30 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. at the Farmville Train Station, 510 West Third St.
  • Thursday, Aug. 10: 4-5:30 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. at the South Street Conference Center, 124 N. South St.

The Pulse Group has set up a site to share your ideas and vision for the market please visit: www.farmvillemarket.proboards.com

The Pulse Group is interested in scheduling meetings with community organizations between Wednesday, Aug. 9 and Friday, Aug. 11. Please contact Kim Royster at kroyster@thepulsegroup.org to schedule a meeting with your group. In your email, please indicate at least two available 1-hour meeting times based on the following schedule:

Monday August 7th

  • 12:00 Noon - 7:00 pm

Tuesday August 8th

  • 9am-12:30 pm
  • 3pm-7:00 pm

Wednesday August 9th

  • 9am-2:30pm

Thursday August 10th

  • 9am-2:30pm

Friday August 11th

  • 11am - 4:00pm

Once the input gathered at next week's listening sessions has been analyzed, consultants will launch an online survey this fall to test various concepts, products, pricing, service formats, and designs to provide the project with more specific information for a potential downtown store.

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