06/23/05 — Maintaining 'market' share

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Maintaining 'market' share

By Turner Walston
Published in News on June 23, 2005 1:45 PM

With Winn-Dixie on the way out, there remains only a handful of players in the grocery store business in Wayne County.

Food Lion operates six stores in the county. Wal-Mart on Spence Avenue and its related store at Sam's Club also sell groceries, along with two independent Piggly Wiggly stores, one in Goldsboro and one in Mount Olive, and several small independent stores.

Winn-Dixie officials announced this week that they are closing all their stores in North Carolina, including three in Wayne County.

John Joyner, the owner of Joyner's Great Valu in Fremont, said it is getting more difficult for grocery stores to compete with their larger counterparts.

"Everybody's feeling the pinch," Joyner said. "Unless you're real nimble, it's going to be tough, with the rate that they're expanding."

Joyner, whose company also owns a store in Nashville, N.C., said independent groceries try to stay in business by allying themselves with wholesale distributors. Another way they try to stay competitive, he said, is by offering more personalized service.

"We try to be competitive on price, but we try to beat them on service, and be more tuned in to the local things," Joyner said.

The owners of the chain stores aren't out walking the aisles and talking to customers, Joyner said.

"If customers have a problem, they can go right to me. And they do," he said. "You get an answer one way or another."

Joyner said he wasn't sure how Winn-Dixie's closings would affect his business.

"I suppose it depends on what happens with who comes in."

He said he believes another grocery store would soon occupy the spaces vacated by Winn-Dixie.

"I would expect to see a Harris Teeter or a Lowes come in," he said. He noted that he wasn't sure the area would support another "high-end" grocery.

"Lowes put one in Kinston, and it didn't make it," Joyner said.

Charlie Howell, the owner of Howell Brothers Grocery in Pikeville, said he hadn't given much thought to Winn-Dixie leaving.

"It won't have any effect on us," Howell said. "I really haven't thought about it."

David Kearney, the owner of the Piggly Wiggly on Lionel Street in Goldsboro, said he hopes to pick up some of the business that Winn-Dixie will be vacating. He said his store is currently expanding.