Rows of vegetables glistened Wednesday morning in Johnston County’s newest grocery store – a Harris Teeter at N.C. 42 and Buffalo Road east of Clayton.
Customers were lined up outside when the county’s first Harris Teeter opened at 8 a.m. in Flowers Crossroads, a shopping center that is part of the sprawling Flowers Plantation development. Members of the Corinth Holders High School marching band performed, turning the grand opening into a community celebration.
This was a big deal.
Kim Stotz lives in Riverwood, which has a brand new Food Lion. But Stotz said she would make Harris Teeter her neighborhood store.
She pointed to the sparkling produce, dripping wet, with many signs boasting “local.”
“The veggies, the fruits, all of the healthy stuff, that’s why I’m coming here,” Stotz said.
She had promised her children dinner from the sushi bar on the store’s opening night. Stotz said her family normally stops at a Harris Teeter for sushi on the way home from the beach. It had been a special occasion; now they can make sushi routine.
Amanda Spivey shopped at the store on Wednesday morning with her two kids Sydney and T.J.
Though she normally shops at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, Spivey said she welcomed Harris Teeter because of its fresh food.
For other Harris Teeter shoppers on Wednesday, the draw was convenience.
Arness McMillian came to the store with her son, Albert.
“We can practically walk here,” said McMillian, who lives in Flowers Plantation.
Becky Flowers, developer of Flowers Plantation, marveled at how much her family’s land has changed over the years. “I watched people my age and older who were raised on this farm with me shopping in that store crying on Wednesday,” she said.
Flower said she walked up to those shoppers and said, “Can you believe we used to work on this site?”
“The excitement was unbelievable at the store,” she added.
Impact on community
Johnston County Manager Rick Hester said Harris Teeter could help draw other businesses to Flowers Plantation, which already has 2,500 homes with plans for 5,290 more.
“The commercial area becoming a reality is going to be an asset for the remaining planned development,” Hester said. “It also means jobs.”
Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs welcomed Harris Teeter to the community. “Harris Teeter is a great company,” he said. “I’m glad to have them in Johnston County.”
“Given their location I don’t think they will have a major impact on Clayton,” Biggs added, “but their presence speaks to the growth and prominence of the western Johnston County area, of which Clayton is the anchor.”
What makes it special
Fresh fruits and vegetables and breads with dips for tasting are signatures of Harris Teeter, and Wednesday’s grand opening offered plenty of samples. The aroma of freshly baked bread spread outward from the bakery.
The crowd of shoppers made it feel like a holiday rush, with at least a dozen people in every aisle.
Susan Spencer of Garner came to the store in search of deals. Spencer makes a spreadsheet each week of deals at area grocery stores, including Harris Teeter, Lowes and Kroger. She meticulously typed those deals onto her laptop, which she had propped up in her shopping cart.
Spencer said she usually finds the best deals at Harris Teeter. “Their double coupon deals are amazing, and sometimes there’s triple coupon deals,” she said.
“I keep hoping for one closer to Garner,” Spencer added. “We’d really like one there.”
Two real estate agents from Home Towne Realty’s office at Flowers Crossroads attended the grand opening.
Tina Barletta and Connie Bradshaw agreed the store would be a bonus for anyone looking to move to the area.
“I think it’s going to show that Flowers Plantation is a great place to live with a lot to offer,” Barletta said.