The Transylvania Times -

Picturing The Past - Grocery Stores Were Family Businesses


September 19, 2016

Ray Burgin inside his grocery store.

Grocery stores of the early to mid-1900s were generally small family run businesses, although there were some large chains such as A&P and Piggly Wiggly. These stores typically carried non-perishable food packaged in cans, bottles and boxes, fresh produce, dairy products and meat. Miscellaneous things like pencils and tablets, cigarettes, toiletries and small hardware items were commonly available as well.

A town the size of Brevard had several grocery stores. The 1947 Citizen's Telephone directory lists Broadway Grocery, Cash & Carry Market, French Broad Grocery, Home Grocery, Mitchem's Grocery, Mull's Market & Grocery, and Scott's Grocery all in the downtown area. There was also an A&P downtown and at least four other grocery stores were on the outskirts of Brevard.

Burgin's Grocery Store on old Highway 64 was 20 years old and the former home of three previous stores when Ray Burgin bought it in 1945. Burgin moved the store back from the road, enclosed a porch and added on to the building. He sold groceries, fresh produce, dairy products and packaged meats, plus some odds and ends.

In 1962 the store began operating seven-days a week, with late evening hours. Burgin's was the place to get whatever had been forgotten on the big weekly shopping trip. Burgin's Grocery closed in the mid-1970s following Ray Burgin's death in 1973.

In 1923 M.O. and Myra McCall opened a grocery store along Highway 64 in Quebec on property that had originally belonged to Myra's grandfather, John Whitmire. The store sold canned goods, candy and a few other general items. Everyone in the surrounding rural area raised farm animals and had large gardens so meat, dairy and produce were not carried. M.O. McCall passed away in 1963 and the store closed a year later. The building was torn down in 1988.

The grand opening at Harold Saltz's "super market" on Hendersonville Highway in Brevard, 1950.

Dozens of other family owned and operated grocery stores were scattered throughout the communities of Transylvania County where nearby residents could purchase food and small items and gather to visit with neighbors. If you have photographs of some of these stores that you would like to preserve for future generations, contact the Local History Room staff at the library.

(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Lib-rary. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at or (828) 884-3151 ext. 242.)


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