Local News

Small-Town Store Struggles To Survive Against Big Business

Posted January 31, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— A small-town grocery store is fighting to stay in business and beat the big chains with customer care, but a failing downtown Raeford is not helping the 80-year-old store survive. City leaders are working to keep other businesses from leaving town.

Eddie McNeill has been in the grocery business for as long as he can remember. More than 80 years later, Raeford's Super Home Food Market is still going strong, despite a dying downtown district.

"My granddaddy started it in about 1919. At one time, there were seven grocery stores on Main Street," he says.

McNeill's grocery store is the only one left. Last month, several businesses have closed for good. A local Western Auto and Tire Store will close down next month after more than 30 years. McNeill says competition is to blame.

"It's hard for a small, independent store to compete with the big guys," he says.

Donald Louya, a member of the downtown revitalization committee, says the goal is to make downtown more diverse by attracting new businesses.

"Instead of saying it's revitalization, it's more restructuring, we're going to try to utilize more of the space we have," he says. "We'll take the empty spaces that are available and bring in new blood into town."

However, McNeill says he will stick to the one thing that has worked for his family's business all these years -- good, old-fashioned customer service.

"We still deliver groceries. We still carry groceries to your car," he says. "We'll open the door for you, and tell you, 'Thank you,' when you leave."

The revitalization committee says it is considering a city ordinance that would help unify the appearance of downtown shops.