HealthFoodStoreHangingInThere

Once again, loyal patrons have bailed out the Denton Community Store, the 25-year-old health food store at 5th and Maple streets.

In late December, the store, facing a $4,000 deficit and possible closure, sought financial assistance from its customers for the fourth time since 1990.

One shopper responded by donating $1, 500 while two customers made short-term loans totaling $2,050. Three other customers also offered loans, said William McDowell, a member of the seven-member collective that runs the grocery. “But we asked for a rain check because we weren’t confident we could pay them back in a timely fashion.”

The store’s financial problems came to a head last fall, when Walt Disney Studios began shooting scenes for the movie a block away on Lake Street, wreaking havoc on local parking.

Sales dipped 15 percent that month. Since then, store receipts — though slightly down from the previous years— have steadily improved.

Still, McDowell says the next couple of months will be touch and go for the financially strapped business.

“We have quarterly sales tax and a lot of other taxes to pay.” he explained. “Hopefully, we’ll make it through. It seems as if everything always comes at once.”

Taking a lead from other neighborhood stores that received financial compensation from Disney for losses they incurred during the filming, the Community Store wrote to the studio in December requesting compensation. McDowell said Disney rejected the collectives’ original dollar request, but has asked for a revised figure —a promising sign.

However, instead of banking on Disney, or continuing to rely on the generosity of customers to combat the store’s financial woes, collective members have started to take some long-term steps to increase business.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the group opted to expand the store’s hours (formerly 11a.m. to 8 p.m.). The grocery is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“The extra hours have helped a lot, especially the later evening hours”, Said McDowell.