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Early opening for long-awaited grocery in Grifton

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Tropicana Supermarket employee Chris Edwards works to stock frozen goods at the store on Thursday.


Jake Keator
The Times-Leader

Thursday, December 7, 2017


GRIFTON — The Tropicana Supermarket opened ahead of schedule in Grifton last week, but it was long overdue for residents who had been without a grocery store since Hurricane Matthew.

The Hispanic-themed chain opened on Thursday, well ahead of the Grand Opening set for Dec. 17, due in part to demand from townspeople.

“We opened up before the grand opening because we would have 10 people every day asking, ‘When are you going to open?’ So, we opened up early,” manager Maria Sanchez said.

The store is structurally complete, but the staff is still working on small details. While most of the stores shelves are totally stocked, a few were still missing items earlier this week.

The store did not have the ability to process EBT transactions, but the necessary equipment should arrive soon, according to Sanchez. The store also will act as a location for Grifton residents to send and receive money and pay their bills.

The store features fresh produce and dairy products, along with a meat department.

The meat department is still under construction. Once complete, customers will be able to speak to a representative and purchase fresh cut meat. In the meantime, customers may still purchase prepackaged beef, chicken and pork.

Everything is expected to be ready for the grand opening on Dec. 17, which is set to be an all-day celebration.

Grifton has been without a grocery store since October 2016, when Hurricane Matthew’s floodwaters devastated the former Piggly Wiggly.

In December 2016, Piggly Wiggly Central Business Office, which owned the store and building, chose not to reopen the business, leaving Grifton residents with few grocery options.

The Dollar General, located next door, offered an expanded line of groceries, but residents had to shop out of town for fresh produce and meat.

“It’s really exciting,” customer Eunice Merphy said at the store this week.

Tropicana is a Hispanic-based supermarket, but it offers much more than Hispanic food items, according Sanchez.

“We will have Asian, Hispanic, African and Jamaican products, along with American. We’re really excited to be open,” Sanchez said.

Tropicana hired two employees from the former Piggly Wiggly, Chris Edwards and Tanya Lewis.

“This store is much more laid back. We really are like a family,” Edwards said.

Grifton resident Ronnie Starraw is excited to be able to stay in town to buy her produce.

“It is wonderful to have the store back. I really hope the citizens of Grifton appreciate it,” Starraw said.

Grifton Manager Joe Johnson also is pleased to have Tropicana open to the public.

“The store looks good. There’s a lot of selection. I’ve been there twice already. It’s nice,” Johnson said Monday.

Before the grocery store opened, Starraw drove to Ayden for her produce.

“I would go to Ayden for my groceries. It made you spend more money, driving all the way there,” Starraw said.

Grifton’s Tropicana Supermarket is owned by Emmanuel Bautista, Jose Gutierrez and Maximamo Gutierrez.

Tropicana Supermarket, 6927 S. Highland Blvd., Grifton, is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Hours are subject to change. For more information, call 252-253-1507 or 252-253-1508.

The Times Leader serves southern Pitt County including Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.