Chyncia Rodgers fondly remembers as a child taking her allowance money to the local convenience store to buy herself a treat.
Now she and her husband, Micholas, own a convenience store of their own. The couple recently opened the door to Mic’s Mini Market at 1528 W. May Ave., off West Airline Avenue, in Gastonia.
The store offers the usual lineup of snacks and drinks, but also fresh produce in an area of the city where such healthy options are limited.
“It’s just a joy to see the kids coming. The kids come and they pick up watermelon,” said Chyncia.
The Rodgers have been in the community for 10 years running a bail bond business.
When Chyncia moved from Washington D.C. to Gastonia she realized businesses were far apart and those without cars would be deprived of healthy and convenient food.
“We realized very early on that this area was a food desert, so people are left to eat what’s available at a gas station and things like that,” said Chyncia.
The couple has always been into clean eating, and teaching their children how to grow their own vegetables.
“When we were presented with the opportunity to have this store I was like, ‘This is perfect,’ because now we can incorporate some of the things we’ve always been passionate about,” said Chyncia.
Micholas said they also want to have the store being available to the community given the previous business closed its doors during the pandemic. Micholas bought it in November.
Chyncia said the closest grocery store sits a couple miles away, and many of her customers arrive at their store on foot.
“The vegetables, initially it was like, ‘You’re not going to get any response, people just drink beer and smoke cigarettes,’ and we can’t keep up with the vegetable requests,” said Chyncia.
She said she believes if healthier products are available people will buy them. She loves to hear customers express their excitement now that the store has reopened.
“We don’t have that much space, but we do have space to expand into. We’re looking into getting more produce, greens. Maybe having a little small garden on the side where we can be a resource,” said Chyncia.
The Rodgers work with a farmer in Shelby to acquire produce, and also have had churches donate to the store.
“Green tomatoes are super popular, okra, watermelon. We’re just trying to figure out what everyone wants and want to really expand into that,” said Chyncia.
Chyncia hopes to form a relationship with the neighborhood children and get to know what vegetables they like and educate them on the process of getting healthier food on their tables at home.
“I think kids miss that. They just go in the store and they’re like, ‘I want that’ or they don’t have any options because they don’t have it at home,” said Chyncia.
The Rodgers have a love for Gaston County, and hope to open more markets in the future. Even though they’re running on a limited schedule right now, the store has high traffic throughout the day.
“Some walk up, some drive up but this door stays chiming all day. Which we love,” said Micholas.
They plan to partner with more local farmers to bring in a wider variety of produce while building a community centered around the store.
Store hours are currently 8a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday.
You can reach Sarah Marino at 704-869-1850 or [email protected]