Benjamin Roberts

May 31, 2009

Mike Black stands casually behind the counter of his downtown market, wearing a zip-up North Face, light-colored jeans and faded New Balance shoes. He greets customers as they enter the store, knowing most by name, often knowing what particular lottery ticket or pack of cigarettes they buy before they tell him.

"Downtown is like a big family," he says with a smile. "I know everybody."

Since opening Black's Mercantile on 221 N. Walnut St. a little over three-and-a-half years ago, Black, 55, has provided downtown with a comfortable environment to shop for groceries.

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