MURPHY, Ore. — The Ray’s Food Place in Murphy closed a few months ago and ever since, residents say they’ve had to completely change the way they buy groceries.
“You know, you look at the expiration date on your gallon of milk and ‘oops! It’s today,’ so you’re like ‘okay, fine,’ so you run into town, but you used to be able to go into Murphy. Not anymore,” said Williams resident Bruce Cates.
In April, that will change. Businessman Rick Nichols heard of the Ray’s closure last fall and saw it as an opportunity to get back into the business he spent more than forty years in.
“A grocery store typically, is the hub of a community. You come to the grocery store to see what’s going on and you see your neighbor and you really do get to know your customers,” said Nichols.
Nichols purchased the old Murphy Ray’s location and is working quickly to open the Hidden Valley Market. He knows once his store opens, it will have an impact on those who can’t commute into Grants Pass.
“Help the people that don’t have adequate transportation to pick up what they need, whether it’s seniors or people who just don’t have a car but are within walking distance,” said Nichols.
Josephine County Food Bank officials said it’s those people and those who rely on S.N.A.P. who have had to make the biggest adjustments. Local food pantries have seen an increase in demand since the Ray’s closures and closed grocery stores lead to limited access to food.
“It makes hunger more of a problem, rather than less and access to healthy food– it keeps our kids healthy, it keeps our communities healthy,” said Susan Scheufele of the Josephine County Food Bank.
One to two dozen new jobs will come with the store opening, and Cates knows he and others in the community are looking forward to it.
“That’s the convenience that you need here,” said Cates.
Nichols said he hopes to start accepting S.N.A.P. soon after the doors open.