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Specialty grocery finds niche in Greenville market

Molly Hulsey //October 27, 2020//

Specialty grocery finds niche in Greenville market

Molly Hulsey //October 27, 2020//

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Reid's new location features a full-service coffee and wine bar along with a three meal restaurant. (Photo/Molly Hulsey)Gourmet restaurant closures may be at an all-time high, but Charlotte-based Reid’s Fine Foods has made the best of having a toehold in both the specialty grocery and hospitality markets.

So much so that the dine-in, pick-up venue opened its chef cases and breakfast-lunch-dinner bar to Greenville patrons today at 1 N. Lauren St.

“We’re ready to grow beyond Mecklenburg County and Charlotte,” Tom Coker, CEO and president of Reid’s told GSA Business Report.

Palmetto Pimento Cheese lines shop shelves beside scratch-made kale and quinoa salad jars and spinach flatbread pizzas. Racks of fine wines occupy a corner of the space across from six-packs of Stella Artois and a beverage bar reminiscent of the turn-of-the-century pharmacy soda counter.

About 50% of the products in the store and restaurant are grown in or near the Carolinas, and with the store’s frozen entree take-out, online ordering and delivery services within a five-mile radius, Coker hopes post-pandemic purchasing trends will play in his store’s favor.

Delivery will launch at the Greenville location within a few weeks. He also plans to deepen Reid’s connection to local vendors and suppliers in the months ahead.

“We’ve seen an uptick in buying at smaller stores, because I think people feel safer going to a smaller store. They aren’t as crowded,” he said.

Like many grocery stores, Reid's experienced a meat shortage during the pandemic. (Photo/Molly Hulsey)


As Coker sought out additional locations to add to Reid’s four Charlotte stores, Greenville stood out as a vibrant and youthful market alongside Atlanta and Charleston. Then the former Caviar and Banana’s location opened up on the corner of Laurens and Washington streets in early January.

“There’s so much going on, just a tremendous amount of development,” he said when asked what drew him to the Upstate. “Great demographics, a very progressive city. My wife and I went to Furman and graduated in the late ‘80s, so we were very familiar with Greenville, and just the transformation of the downtown area is incredible. It’s the kind of city you want to be in right now.”

Coker signed the lease for the property in late February, two weeks before the pandemic hit. Renovations and the pandemic pushed back Reid’s expected summer grand opening. Meat shortages and competition from larger grocery stores also beset Reid’s Charlotte stores.

“It’s been a very difficult period, because there hasn’t been a roadmap to handle this period,” he said. “It’s been a challenge, because there were new foreign issues to address pretty much daily when this first hit. When this hit us in late March, we immediately had to reduce headcount and retrench, not knowing how bad it was going to turn out.”