WARREN, Ohio – With fresh produce like green tomatoes, okra and onions and many staple items, Mac’s Market aims to bring convenience and fair prices to an underserved neighborhood.
Owned by Jamaal and Mia McEachern, the store at the corner of Highland Avenue and Oak Street brings affordable produce and other foods to an area where they can be hard to find.
“We’re people of faith and God has really blessed us and I’m just glad we’re able to be here for the community,” Mia McEachern said.
The couple stocks the store with seasonal fresh produce, sometimes locally sourced, as well as a variety of items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition, the store has items not typically found at convenience stores and with prices as low as a quarter.
“When we were children and you went to the store you could buy little quarter bags of candy, like penny candy,” McEachern said. “We have little bags of candy, cookies, chips, vegetables… we have a variety of different things. We try to keep it affordable for our community so (they) can come in and don’t feel like they’re breaking the bank.”
Jamaal McEachern said this has been his goal for 15 or 20 years, but he credits God with making it happen. A disabled Air Force veteran originally from Pittsburgh, McEachern said he and his wife moved to the area to be closer to her family. Then they began looking at ways they could give to the community.
Using their own resources to buy the property and build the business, the McEacherns partnered with the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP). The organization helped them find the required refrigeration, shelving for the vegetables and a point of sale machine. “Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, they are great, great people,” McEachern said.
Additionally, by partnering with Warren Redevelopment and Planning, the McEacherns were able to obtain a grant, which helped them fix the exterior, paint the building, and add signage and new doors.
After year of planning and sweat equity by doing the work themselves, the little community store of their dreams is finally a reality. The hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Councilwoman-at-Large Helen Rucker was one of the first through the door for the soft opening on Thursday. She said she has been driving past the store often in hopes of seeing it open. She grew up one street over and knows the neighborhood has been living in a food desert for a long time.
“This is a shot in the arm,” she said. “The location is perfect, it’s close. The kids can come here and buy candy and the residents can buy items needed for a meal or an emergency. WRTA is close by. They can use the bus for free.”
Rucker said both she and the 6th Ward councilman plan to support the store any way possible.
One thing that has always bothered her was seeing children in that area having to cross busy Market Street just to get to a store and people having to buy food at a pharmacy. The closest grocery to the neighborhood is on Tod Avenue and has higher prices.
“Mac’s Market is now the only corner store in this neighborhood and for people in this neighborhood this is a huge deal,” said Lydia Walls, a program coordinator at TNP, adding besides convenience.
The store also provides healthy options, she noted. Too often people are busy or get done with a long day of work and just end up eating something convenient, Walls said, which can mean grabbing fast food or the only other unhealthy options available.
TNP partners with Produce Perks Midwest, a program that allows those using SNAP-EBT payment cards to double their buying power when they purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in some stores and farmer’s markets. Walls believes Mac’s Market may soon be included on the list of places that are part of the program.
Additionally, TNP helps provide marketing materials to promote small, community stores and will help host events at the store, including a grand opening celebration at 11 a.m. Oct. 15.
Pictured at top from left: Jamaal and Mia McEachern, along with Lydia Walls of the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, stand inside Mac’s Market.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.