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Following Vandalism and Floods, Luna’s Seeks Community Help to Open Allied Drive Grocery

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Three years in the making, Luna’s Grocery is scheduled to open in less than a month, but needs some help from the community to get across the finish line.

The grocery, owned by Mariam Maldonado, looks to bring fresh food to the Allied Drive neighborhood for the first time in nearly ten years. The Copp’s in the neighborhood closed in 2009 and the Walgreens in 2014, leaving many Allied Drive community members with transportation challenges to shop for groceries at gas stations. Several community-based efforts to solve that “food desert” issue have stalled, but Luna’s looks poised to open November 15.

However, vandalism, flooding and other unforeseen obstacles have Maldonado turning to the community to fill a $50,000 budget hole.

“Our windows got broken and it was a double glass so it cost us $2,900 to fix it,” Maldonado said. “We think it was kids around the neighborhood that threw something through the window … and then we found asbestos in the floor,” which cost $14.40 per square foot to remove — almost $35,000 total.

But the real damage came in the torrential rains that flooded much of the Madison area.

“The whole floor of the business got flooded which created mold and we have to replace like the entire lining of the business. UW Health donated a bunch of equipment including a freezer and a cooler and they got flooded, so we actually lost that donation.”

And donated equipment isn’t covered by insurance, Maldonado said.

The City of Madison had set aside some funding to address the Allied Drive food desert, some of which Maldonado used to put a downpayment on the $320,000 purchase of the building at 2010 Red Arrow Trail. Maldonado said she and husband Joe have invested $43,000 of their own money as well, and have borrowed money to start the business. They still have funds available from a $200,000 Small Business Administration loan, but those funds aren’t allowed to be used for building repairs or renovations.

“The SBA is supposed to recover equipment, inventory, and fixtures. So I do have money for inventory and fixtures but I don’t have money for construction,” Maldonado said. “

Faced with nearly $50,000 shortfall just weeks from opening, Maldonado said, “we could take another loan but, we have the mortgage loan and the SBA loan and another 50 grand loan it seems pretty scary right now for our family because we have put almost eight hundred thousand dollars in this venture.”

As of Thursday morning, Luna’s Go Fund Me campaign had raised $2,050 from 29 donations. Maldonado said she will take donations all the way up to the store’s opening on November 15.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday, October 23, donations have now surpassed $13,000.