Ocmulgee Traders closes doors


Marin Guta, Digital Editor

Ocmulgee Traders, a European-inspired grocery store, closed its doors after only 17 months of being open, according to the (Macon) Telegraph.

Owner, Steve Bell, announced on the store’s closing on its Facebook page:

“What an adventure pulling a store together like Ocmulgee Traders, bringing unique and loved products downtown. The store’s gross profit margin exceeded our expectations but we needed more volume. Unfortunately I personally can’t sustain the store until the density of downtown grows with several projects in the next year. I”m (sic) afraid we’re going to have to shut it down unless we get an immediate investor or buyer. Thank you all for your support.”

The downtown grocery sold organic grocery items and was outfitted with a café that sold sandwiches and drinks.
Bell told the Telegraph that he wanted to keep the store’s doors open, but he couldn’t afford to “pay out of pocket” to keep the store afloat.
Last November, Ocmulgee Trader’s store owners Steve and Laura Bell sat down in an interview with The Cluster. They said the idea for the grocery store came out of the Macon Mogul Business Contest, where the winners of the contest earned the chance of receiving $50,000 for their business along with  free rent for a year in downtown Macon.
The Bells put together their creative-business juices and pitched three ideas for the contest, including an urban grocery store. Their idea was cut during the second round of the competition.
The couples’ efforts have caught the attention of of College Hill Corridor, which needed to launch a grocery store downtown as a part of its economic revitalization plan. With some financial help from College Hill, on June 4, 2014, the couple opened the $400,000 multi-level urban grocery store and called it Ocmulgee Traders.
Josh Rogers, CEO of NewTown Macon, said that it may have been too early to open a store downtown. He told the Telegraph that he hopes that the store’s closing doesn’t dissuade people from investing in downtown.