Warren, Ohio – With fresh produce like green tomatoes, okra, onions and many more essential items, Mac’s Market aims to provide convenience and fair prices in an underserved neighborhood.
Owned by Jamal and Mia McKechearn, the store, located on the corner of Highland Street and Oak Street, brings affordable produce and other foods to a hard-to-find area.
“We are believers and have been really blessed by God and I am so glad we are able to be here for the community,” said Mia McEachern.
The couple stock the store with fresh, seasonal produce, sometimes locally sourced, as well as a variety of items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Additionally, the store has items not usually found in stores at prices as low as a quarter.
“When we were kids and I went to the store, you could buy a quarter bag of little candy, like a little candy,” MacKiachern said. “We have little bags of candy and cookies and chips and vegetables… We have a variety of different things. We try to make it affordable for our community so they (they) can come and not feel like they’re breaking the bank.”
Jamal MacKiachern said that’s been his goal for 15 or 20 years, but he credits God with making it happen. MacKiachern, a disabled Air Force veteran, of Pittsburgh, said he and his wife have moved to the area to be closer to her family. Then they started looking for ways they could give to the community.
Using their own resources to purchase property and build a business, the McEacherns partnered with the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP). The organization helped them find needed refrigeration, vegetable racks and a POS machine. “They are amazing, great people,” MacKechearn said.
Additionally, by partnering with Warren Redevelopment and Planning, the McEacherns was able to secure a grant, which helped them repair the exterior, paint the building, and add new signage and doors.
After a year of planning and equalizing by doing the work themselves, the small community store of their dreams is finally a reality. Business hours will be 7 AM to 7 PM, Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays; and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Roving board member Helen Rucker was one of the first to walk through the soft opening door on Thursday. She said she often drove past the store hoping to see it open. You grew up on one street and know the neighborhood has been in a food desert for a long time.
“That’s a bullet in the arm,” she said. “The location is perfect, it’s close. Kids can come here and buy candy and residents can buy items for a meal or for emergencies. WRTA nearby. They can use the bus for free.”
Rucker said she and Sixth City Councilor plan to support the store in any way they can.
The only thing that always bothered her was seeing kids in that area having to cross the busy market street just to get to a store, and people having to buy food at the pharmacy. The nearest neighborhood grocery store is on Tod Avenue and the prices are higher.
“Mac Market is now the only major store in this neighborhood and for people in this neighborhood, this is a huge deal,” said Lydia Walls, Program Coordinator at TNP.
She noted that the store also offers healthy options. Wells said people are often busy or get through a long work day and end up eating something convenient, which could mean junk food or other unhealthy options available.
TNP is partnering with Produce Perks Midwest, a program that allows those who use SNAP-EBT payment cards to double their purchasing power when purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at select stores and farmers markets. Walls believes that Mac’s Market may soon be included in the list of places that are part of the program.
In addition, TNP helps provide marketing materials to promote small community stores and will help host in-store events, including a grand opening event at 11 a.m. October 15.
Pictured at top left: Jamal and Mia McKiachern, along with Lydia Walls of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, stand inside Mac Market.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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