Plans in the works to reopen Johnson’s flood-damaged Sterling Market

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:49 PM EDT
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JOHNSON, Vt. (WCAX) - When flooding hit Vermont in July, it damaged many homes and businesses, including the one and only grocery store in the village of Johnson, the Sterling Market.

“I’d bop in, I’d buy my dinner. I come back the next day, I buy my dinner again,” said Mark Woodward, who has lived in the town of Johnson for many years and has only ever shopped at the Sterling Market.

Because the market was destroyed in the flood, Woodward has had to drive to Morrisville to go shopping. He says he hopes the Sterling Market can come back soon.

“I have to drive to Morrisville every couple days,” he said. “I am not going to see my neighbors, whereas when the store was open, I would see neighbors, would visit. It was a wonderful thing to have right in town.”

When the flooding hit Johnson, the store was filled with more than seven feet of water. Close to $400,000 of food was lost and over $1 million worth of equipment.

For the past two months, the owners, the Associated Grocers of New England, have been working with Pomerleau Real Estate to revamp the store. Right now, the two are exploring different strategies.

“We are really looking at solutions now. Ernie Pomerleau and his team are trying to see how we can mitigate something like this from happening or reducing the damage that it can do in the future,” said Mike Violette, the CEO of the Associated Grocers of New England.

Violette says it is going to cost millions for the renovations.

The two companies are talking about raising the floodgates to reduce the risk of the store flooding again, but one thing is certain-- the market is coming back.

“We really want to try to support the town of Johnson. The town of Johnson has been very good to us. We certainly understand how important that, that store is to Johnson,” Violette said.

As of right now, there is no definitive timeline on how long the grocery store will be closed, but residents hope the store will reopen very soon.

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