Reid’s Fine Foods, the Charlotte institution that started as a grocery store before expanding into the specialty food market, is setting its sights on Raleigh as the start of what may be a wider expansion in the Carolinas.
The company announced plans Wednesday to open a holiday store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village, its first holiday store outside Charlotte, according to co-owner Tom Coker.
Coker also said that the company is considering adding four to five stores in other areas of the Carolinas in the next five years. In fact, the Raleigh holiday store wasn’t planned to be the first, but was hurried along when a good location opened up at Cameron Village. He actually was considering Greenville, S.C., as the first store outside Charlotte.
“It wasn’t in our plan for this fall,” he says.
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The opening date hasn’t been set for the 4,700-square-foot Raleigh location, but it’s expected to be in late October. The store will feature gift baskets, specialty foods and local products, as well as prepared meals and appetizers. It won’t have the wine and meat departments that the Charlotte stores have, but it will include things like macaroni & cheese and biscuits.
Coker says if the holiday store is a success, they plan to renovate it after the holidays and reopen as a permanent Reid’s in the spring, with more of the food preparation areas that are found in the Charlotte stores.
Reid’s has a long history in Charlotte, dating to the 1930s. For years, it was a small neighborhood grocery on Providence Road in Myers Park that was known for personal service and grocery delivery. It also was popular for its high-end meat department, including specialty cuts and personal service from butchers, and for its well-stocked wine department. When retail started moving back to the uptown area with the opening of Seventh Street Station, Reid’s became the anchor tenant, led by longtime owner Chuck Richards.
When the space was redeveloped as the 7th Street Public Market, Richards sold the store to Coker and Al Waugh, who opened a new Reid’s on Selwyn Avenue in Myers Park, with a large prepared-food and meat counter, as well as wine and specialty foods. Last year, they added a large location in SouthPark, including an outdoor patio area.
Coker said Wednesday that he’s hoping like to return to the Charlotte uptown area someday, with a small location.
With its mix of prepared food, meats and cheeses, wine and specialty food items, Reid’s is smaller but similar to the state’s biggest specialty-food player, A Southern Season, based in Chapel Hill. After expanding into South Carolina and Virginia, A Southern Season filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year and closed several smaller stores. At the time, the company blamed its troubles on expanding too rapidly. A Southern Season has been bought by Calvert Retail of Delaware, which owns the chain Kitchen & Company.
Coker emphasized Wednesday that while Reid’s plans to expand, it will do so slowly.
“Our plan is to kind of expand slowly and make sure we can finance our growth,” he says. “A slow, steady pace where we can remain financially sound with smaller stores.”
Any new stores will stay small, he says, in the 5,000-square-foot model of the Selwyn Avenue store. However, he also says the stores will continue to focus on Carolinas-based food products. He said that a recent inventory in Charlotte showed 54 N.C.-based food companies, and he’s hoping to add a few more from the Triangle at the holiday store in Raleigh.
“We are not a grocery store, we do not want to be a grocery store,” he said, joking that he avoids “the G word.”
“We are a specialty food store. We want to continue to grow that.”
The holiday shop in Raleigh will be at 443-B Daniels Street. Before Thanksgiving, the hours will be 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Starting on “Black Friday,” the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, hours will expand to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.