GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 12, 2012

Rockport embraces grocery survey

Rectangular pieces of paper advertising a survey are neatly piled beside cash registers and in the centers of tables at the Whistlestop Mall stores and shops.

These are the kinds of papers usually ignored or recycled before read, but the title at the top — “A Grocery Store for Rockport” — is making most Rockporters stop, and about 1,000 have paused long enough to take the online survey, created and distributed by Jay Smith and his family, who own the mall property and the site of the owner of the former IGA grocery store.

Smith said the survey has given his family a chance to communicate with area people and hear their opinions. Smith said the survey is targeted at everyone in the Cape Ann community, not just Rockporters.

“We certainly would like to see it (the IGA) fill with a business that would benefit the community,” Smith said. “The survey kind of lets us see the mood of what people tend to like in the area.”

An alcohol license, which the town has applied for, could be available by January after the legislation passes in the Statehouse and the town takes a ballot vote, according to Town Administrator Linda Sanders. Smith said the license could encourage the grocery chain vendors with whom he’s discussed the site.

“There’s some very respectable people in the local industry and a little bit further afield as well,” Smith said. “In any business, the more product lines you can sell successfully, then the safer the business is.”

Smith’s survey asks people about their household grocery budget, where they usually shop and what qualities they value in a grocery store.

One question likely to draw a near-unanimous answer asks, “Do you think that Rockport needs a grocery store?”

Since the IGA closed in January 2011, after serving Rockport for nearly 40 years, Rockporters have traveled out of town to get even the most basic of groceries.

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