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Akron foodies gain Mustard Seed but lose West Point
Mustard Seed Market opens its Highland Square location this weekend, just as the nearly 80-year-old West Point Market announces it will close in December
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


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Kabir Bhatia
 
Mustard Seed Market says the Green Roof at the new Highland Square location is a way to education the community about growing their own food
Courtesy of KABIR BHATIA
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After 79 years, one of Akron’s oldest specialty grocery stores will close in December. But as WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, the name “West Point Market” may live on.
Akron foodies gain Mustard Seed but lose West Point

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The wines, meats and cheeses – plus those Killer Brownies – have put West Point Market on the map for decades. But a Georgia company offered to buy the land last year, and has finally made an offer that the Vernon family said they couldn’t refuse.

Russ Vernon ran the market – which was co-founded by his father –- until 2006. He says West Point has been joined in its niche in recent years by supermarkets looking to expand their offerings.

“Competition has really stepped up. And it’s changed. Change is good. Change is taking place in newspapers, radio, doctor’s offices. And retail is just another evolving part of the economy.” 

The key to success
Vernon adds that the secret to lasting 79 years was diversification.

“I think customer service and quality [and] specialty products. We have 12 businesses under one roof with the chocolate shop and a wine shop, etc. We were founded as a meat store, so we’re still considered as a place to go for meats.”

Vernon sold the market to his son in 2006 and says there is some discussion about keeping the name alive through a series of kiosks. But he stresses that those plans are only in the beginning stages. He also says the timing of the announcement -- just as Mustard Seed Market opens in Highland Square -- is coincidental, citing the different types of items each store carries.

Mustard Seed opens
Mustard Seed will open Saturday right next to where a Sparkle Market stood a decade ago. Gabe Nabors’ family started Mustard Seed in 1981. He says the response in the neighborhood to the newest store has been extremely positive, and features like their Green Roof will help give back to the community.

“The vision is to be able to put a rail up there. And then create little crops. So everything from tomatoes to Swiss chard to kale.

"The passion is not necessarily to grow the food for us. But more importantly to teach the community how they can grow their own food. My vision is to be able to have the kids from Portage Path School or King School and all the different surrounding areas and bring those children here and teach them how to grow food.”

The new Highland Square location is about two-thirds the size of the original Montrose store, and features what Nabors calls a “fast-casual” style café, which can serve lunchtime crowds quickly.

Related Links & Resources
Mustard Seed Market to break ground in Highland Square

Chewing it over with veteran grocer Russ Vernon

 
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