Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Going Wholesale Uniontown Wholesale Grocery Cuts Down on Waste, Fills Food Gap

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Going Wholesale Uniontown Wholesale Grocery Cuts Down on Waste, Fills Food Gap

Article excerpt

After 27 years in the discount fashion retail business, John Gabriel Sr. has switched gears to the wholesale food industry.

After only a month of preparation, the ribbon was cut and wholesale grocery store Mill Street Merchant opened the doors Friday to its first storefront in Uniontown.

Mr. Gabriel and his brothers were bought out from their business Gabriel Brothers, now Gabe's, in March 2012. Since then he's has been itching to get back in the business.

Following the somewhat impromptu opening last week, the new 6,000-square-foot store is offering Uniontown residents and retailers wholesale foods at a 30 percent to 70 percent discount, the company's CEO Patrick Esposito said.

The business aims to solve two problems, both locally and globally.

Locally, downtown Uniontown is sparse in terms of grocery stores. When Hopwood resident and Mill Street Merchant shopper LouAnn Taggart, 62, visits her brother, she's often left running to the nearest convenience store or CVS for basic food items, she said.

Uniontown also has a large elderly population, with four senior centers surrounding the 50 Mill Street location. Mr. Gabriel said Mill Street Merchant hopes to serve them.

That's what brought Logic Lane LLC, Mill Street Merchant's parent company, back to Mr. Gabriel's hometown. The town has been loyal to their family since the 1930s, he said.

Mr. Gabriel plans to expand to other locations to increase Mill Street Merchant's buying power and stock quantity, but first he's focusing on turning a profit in Uniontown.

Globally, the company wants to help curb the 40 percent of food wasted each year. Much of the $165 billion worth of uneaten food is lost long before it hits the dining room table, during the distribution process, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council study from August 2012.

"We always think about attacking the issues at home but in reality we should be attacking them at a business level as well," Mr. …

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