A local man is hoping to set up his hometown community’s first business near its Interstate 10 ramp. Ashley Johnson plans to build a country general store in the Sneads area this year, right at the “merge mark” on Blueberry Drive, where the stretch of road transitions from two to four lanes.

Johnson has purchased several aces of property near the Blueberry Drive ramp south of Sneads, and says he’ll name his business the Mill Springs General Store.

It will have a gas station and the kinds of merchandise one typically finds inside convenience stores, but Johnson said he plans to offer staples for the country kitchen, as well. It will be about 3,400 square feet in size.

The land he purchased is very near some long-time family property, including a spot where his maternal grandfather had a corn mill. The people living in the area have long referred to the area as Mill Springs, although you’ll find no signage declaring that.

Johnson said it would be premature to say much more about the particulars, since those are still in flux, but he does say he expects his store to have a rustic exterior. It will not, he said, look like a typical convenience store and it will have some merchandise selections that most of them don’t. He said he’s always wanted to have a country store, despite having worked most of his adult life to date in another line of work entirely, fulfilling public service roles and at times working two full-time jobs.

He said he’s looking forward to fulfilling his long-term dream.

“I just want to have a down-home atmosphere, keep it super-clean, and offer a great variety of things for a fair price that customers will appreciate,” Johnson said. “I’m trying to meet or exceed the best standards I’ve seen out there in those particular aspects, but make this in its own unique style. I’ve always wanted this and it just felt like divine intervention, the way things came together for me.”

Johnson’s not sure when he’ll open, but has already started the permitting and design process. He’s crossed of those hurdles: Jackson County Commissioners this week approved his development order.

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