A recent article in Our State magazine about family-owned Smith’s Red & White Supermarket, located in nearby Dortches, got me thinking about local Rocky Mount grocery stores back when dinosaurs roamed the earth—that is, the 1960s and ’70s when I was growing up.
I decided to take a field trip to the former locations of two of these stores, Gurganus Brothers and Wooten’s Supermarket. I wanted to see what, if anything, is going on there today.
Both locations are in areas of town that have experienced what sociologists call white flight. When I pulled into the parking lots of the stores that have replaced Gurganus Brothers and Wooten’s, I felt out of place and conspicuous, and if I’m being honest, a little afraid. Maybe I was just being paranoid, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to enter either of the two stores that today stand in the locations of the old supermarkets.
I would like to have gone inside. I was curious to see what’s being sold and whether the prices are significantly higher than those in a Food Lion or a Harris Teeter. From what I could see from my car in the parking lot, both stores seemed fairly busy, with customers coming and going.
Are local people shopping there for the convenience? For products they can’t find in other grocery stores? Or the friendliness of a small market where the cashier may actually know their name?
Or because they lack transportation to get anywhere else?
I go to Smith’s Red and White for one of the above reasons: products I can’t find in another grocery store. For example, freshly-ground sausage, homemade chicken salad, desserts from nearby Tastee Creations Bakery, and barrels of what used to be called “penny” candy.
If you’ve been inside either Fairview Mart, located where Gurganus Brothers used to be or The Family Supermarket, at the location of the old Wooten’s Supermarket, tell me about it. I’m curious to know what their shoppers find there.
To read more about Rocky Mount mom and pop grocery stores from days of yore, click here: http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/Patsy-Pridgen/2018/05/20/Local-grocery-stores-come-and-go.html