WHITMIRE, SC (WIS) – A town in Newberry now knows what will replace the last full-service grocery store it had in town.
James Brock with developer Twin Rivers Capital, LLC confirmed to WIS that the now-empty land will be replaced with a “combined Dollar Tree/Family Dollar store.”
The combined store will occupy the building that until February housed the city’s Piggly Wiggly. Its closure prompted cries from residents worried about the food desert it would create and the transportation barrier elderly residents had to cross to get to nearby towns.
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In an email, Brock wrote that the developer would invest $1 million in the property for the project and was slated to open in the summer barring issues with supply chains.
As for its content, Brock wrote:
The anchor space will accommodate two brands. A brand will offer frozen and chilled foods, a wide selection of pantry products, beauty and health products, household items, basic clothing, baby and toddler necessities, food pet products, electronics, toys and home decor items. The other brand will feature over 4,000 items where shoppers will discover new products every week, including balloons and party supplies, Hallmark greeting cards, seasonal decorations and holiday gifts, DIY essentials, school necessities and much more. This new concept is a close-to-home store experience that offers incredible value on everyday products, as well as the essential and seasonal items the parent company is best known for.
In the email, Brock said the developer is not responsible for the grocery store closing. He wrote:
According to our knowledge and previous conversations, the Piggly Wiggly had been presented with a long-term rental option by the owner. The Piggly Wiggly never agreed to anything long term and operated on a monthly lease for years. The Piggly Wiggly could have walked at any time; therefore, the previous owner chose to terminate his lease and sell his property. The narrative that “the big bad developer” is shutting down the long-running grocery store is shortsighted and inaccurate in this case. It’s not so black and white.
Brock wrote that the sale of the property is complete, but the county recordings don’t reflect that yet.
The owner of the Piggly Wiggly, John Gillis, previously told WIS that the closure came after owner Linda Campbell informed him that the property was being sold and that he had to leave.
Campbell did not return a request for comment at the time of closing.
Lifetime resident Shannon Ammons expressed anger at the news.
“On that, we don’t need it. We need a grocery store. We don’t need a dollar tree, you can buy spaghetti, you can buy sauce, you can buy pasta. You can buy junk. It’s not junk food. We don’t need that,” she said.
She pointed to the Dollar General store, located less than half a mile from where the combined store will be built.
Ammons said that at the moment she buys her produce at nearby Joe’s Market, a small fresh produce store. Additionally, she said she relies on others for help with grocery shopping.
“People don’t like you asking them to do things like that. They have their own business and it’s very embarrassing not being able to have food on your table,” she said.
Joe Market owner Michael Dillard said demand has jumped since the grocery store closed. We do not know if it will evolve accordingly.
“I probably need it, but like I said, if it had happened 25 or 30 years ago, I probably would have tried to do something to make it a lot bigger. But I will have 70 in a few months. So I can’t, physically I can’t take it anymore,” he said.
Councilman Michael Thomas echoed the preference for a grocer.
“It’s great that they want to spend the money to upgrade the building and give the city a little tax relief, but when you pull out a grocery store in a small town, what do you get?”
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