The Village Mercantile

Live at Five at 4December 23, 2016Store offers nutrition for the body and the mind.

An East Tennessee business focuses on affordable food for folks on a fixed income and it also encourages... reading.

Monica Lauber saw a need and opened the store.

The Village Mercantile is off Broadway in North Knoxville. It's near a supportive housing apartment complex for low-income seniors.

"In this ZIP code we have about 25 percent of the people operate at or below the poverty line for the United States, and so stretching a grocery dollar is very important," she said.

Her store offers low-priced surplus and salvage groceries. The surplus is just that: a supplier had too much. The salvage...

"It could be damaged packaging, there could have been a change in manufacturing maybe a label changed on the product and they pulled all of it. Or maybe a particular flavor of a product wasn't as big as a hit as the others," she said.

A farmer comes on Saturdays to offer fresh produce but the items here are non-perishable. The selection may not exactly match your grocery list.

"It's a little like a treasure hunt because we don't always have the same things. We always have some cereal, some granola bars, some canned goods. But we might not have the same thing that you saw last time. The brand may have changed, or we may have corn and not beans. We may have Cheerios and not oatmeal, that kind of thing," she said.

The inventory includes a library, a Little Free Library, take a book return a book. Inside, there's a little free library annex.

"Which features large print books," she said. "With our emphasis on the large print for seniors some who are not perhaps using DVDs and the internet as much, they are still reading novels and books and enjoying them."

A library in a grocery store isn't that much of a stretch for Monica  who is the daughter of a librarian.

"Sometimes we see people pull in, they wave, if they're a regular shopper they'll just point at the library and get what they need and go," she said.

Browse the book shelves and the store shelves.

"If they see what they really love and they know they will consume it then they buy quite a lot when they do find it here," she said.

The Village Mercantile. Where everyone can leave with a free piece of candy, a bargain, and maybe even a book.

A community room is tucked into the back of the store. People can rent it for meetings or activities.


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