Local News

Nonprofit Battles Grocery Chain For Goldsboro Building

Posted May 24, 2006

— It's a crumbling building in a not-so-great part of Goldsboro. In the windows, red and white signs which say "Butcher" and "Baker" hang over piles of clothes and mattresses. Pieces of drywall from the ceiling hang down amidst the disarray.

It may not look like much, but for victims of domestic violence, the abandoned grocery store in Wayne County has been a godsend.

"I had left my ex-husband of 13 years, an abusive relationship, I needed help," said client Shareva Davis.

Shareva found that help at Women's Outreach in Goldsboro. In an average year, between 450 to 600 women and children come through the doors of the former store to get help, they get everything from food, to clothes, to diapers. Now, the door is locked.

"Fourteen years of us giving our every day, giving our souls to this place, and we can't even touch our own stuff," said the group's founder, Susan Davis, who is no relation to ShaReva Davis.

Susan Davis showed WRAL where Food Lion agreed in writing to let the organization have the building rent-free for seven years if they fixed it up, and then at a low rent for five more years. She also showed WRAL where she accepted the agreement in writing. But then, Davis says, Food Lion suddenly told her she had to buy the building at a cost of $300,000 -- money she says she was trying to raise when they evicted her.

"'We'll let you stay, now we won't. OK, we'll let you stay if you fix it, now we won't. But we'll let you buy it if you're quick.' That's it in a nutshell," said Susan Davis.

In response to Davis' allegations Food Lion sent WRAL a statement, saying: "In early 2005 Food Lion offered the space rent free for multiple years, providing the organization would make improvements to the building. We could never get the woman to sign an agreement. This went on for several months. No improvements were made to the building. In late 2005, Food Lion offered the sell the space to the organization. The organization said it needed to work out financing. The organization then cut off communication with Food Lion. It would not return phone calls or respond to letters. The organization has never informed Food Lion if it has obtained financing. Food Lion has received interest in the space from other organizations."

Davis believes Food Lion simply got a better offer.

"Greed, greed, just pure greed," she said.

Although the eviction noticed gave Davis until 1 p.m. Wednesday to get the donated items out of the building, she has already been locked out. She estimates there are 20 tractor-trailers full of clothes, household goods and food in the facility.


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