A plea for shopping local was made at a Monday night discussion of a recent Market Place Family Foods survey. The store announced it will soon go through a “transition,” and its fate is up to the community.

“The big box stores came into the community and changed some things,” said Market Place Family Foods developer Al Adelsberger during the discussion. “This building is here because of the community. There’s a transition in that building, and we’re reaching out as best as we can.”

The Union County Chamber of Commerce created the anonymous survey for random customers to provide feedback on the Family Foods grocery store. The Observer covered some of the results from that survey in Friday’s paper. Approximately 24 people took the survey and rated the store on its overall appearance and its products and provided feedback on their priorities while shopping.

Bob Kavanaugh, executive director of the chamber, presented the overall results of the survey to the group.

The surveyors were split for the most part on the overall appearance and feel of the store, whether the customers felt welcomed and whether the shelves were organized.

“Beautiful on the outside, but dark, gloomy, cold, unfriendly on the inside,” wrote one surveyor.

Surveyors reported many of the shelves were empty when they went into the store. Some said the locations of the products didn’t make sense and the price of the items weren’t always readily available.

The quality of the products — including produce, meats, canned goods and dairy — were mostly rated as neutral.

The group was asked to elaborate on what was said in the surveys. Many of them offered constructive criticism or defended the grocery store.

Discussion participant John Bozarth said he doesn’t believe it’s feasible to assume Family Foods will have everything a customer needs.

Nathan Larson, who was one of the surveyors, said he thought the Bistro was probably the star attraction of the store. He said he plans to take advantage of the outdoor seating once the weather improves.

Larson also said having sale flyers available makes a big difference to him. Utilizing newspaper ads, Facebook or a website would help the store garner attention, he said.

Local business owner Jenny Bartell said she has seen meats that were past their best buy date. She was also disappointed to find items that contained MSG.

Several of the people in attendance said they base their shopping on what’s on sale at the grocery stores. Some went a step further and said what’s on sale will determine what’s for dinner.

Sherry Kavanaugh said she had been hoping the new store would be similar to Whole Foods, a supermarket chain that specializes in selling food products without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners or hydrogenated fats.

“I want something you just can’t get at Safeway,” she said.

Adelsberger said he wants to see this store, and the community, succeed.

“I’m in love with this community,” he said. “This is probably the best meeting we’ve had (about the store) because of the exchange of information.”

He said the community and the store need to support each other.

“If we don’t support each other, then we’re lost,” Adelsberger said.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer