KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Since June, crews have been working to replace the Mineral Springs bridge over First Creek. That work has closed Mineral Springs Road, which goes right through Walker Boulevard. That’s where you’ll find The Village Mercantile and a number of other stores.
Between the pandemic and now construction, owner Monica Lauber says sales are down. Now, they need the help of the people they serve. Lauber posted a message to customers on social media to remind people that behind all the bulldozers, The Village Mercantile is still there, and it’s open.
“I like to put a positive foot forward and everything’s okay and bright and happy but the reality is, some days it’s tough and some days are really quiet here,” Lauber said.
Lauber says lately, it’s been hard to stay positive. The shelves in the store are full, but the aisles are empty.
“This is my livelihood. The Village Mercantile is how I feed my family and how others feed their families. It’s been a blow. This is community. We do have regulars, we have people that come daily, this is where they come for food,” Lauber said.
Jerry Allen is one of those regulars. He comes in three days a week while he waits for his wife to finish her dialysis treatments across the street.
He says it’s a welcoming and friendly environment and it gives him a place to go while he waits.
“I wouldn’t have nowhere to do because I have to kill four hours. The lady that owns the store lets me use her bathroom and they have cheap prices,” Allen said.
Lauber is able to keep the prices of her products low by selling surplus and salvaged goods. Many people in the area depend on these lower prices to feed their families. She also sells homemade soaps and candles, but some people come in just for the conversation and a friendly face.
“The amount of people hurting beyond me is great and the products that we provide at the lower price point, gives them a chance to have better food, easier access to food at this corner and a friendly experience,” Lauber said.
Lauber says the whole reason she opened the store was to give people a place to buy high quality, low cost food. She came up with the idea after finding herself in a situation where she was unable to buy food for herself and was couldn’t get everything she needed from a food pantry.
Her only goal has been, and still is, to be the good in the community. She says she hopes the community will be good to her store in return.
The Village Mercantile is located at 4503 Walker Blvd. Knoxville. You can still get to it by taking the Mineral Springs detour. They are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Sunday.
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