Retailers say recent store arrivals don’t worry them

Published 11:59 pm Monday, February 16, 2009

Two local retailers — Andalusia Cash and Carry and Andalusia Farmer’s Co-op — say they are not intimidated by the recent announcement of not only a home and retail farm and ranch store, but also a home improvement store. Both agree they have one thing that will continue to keep them successful in the future — existing customer loyalty.

Andalusia Cash and Carry, which opened in 1973 and is owned by the Dean family of Greenville, works to give customers what they need — whether it’s paint, faucets or power tools — seven days a week. It is for that reason that Robert “Bob” Smith said he isn’t worried about the recent additions to the local retail market.

“This is not just a business for the people who work here and the people who shop here,” Smith said. “It’s a whole experience. If you get up and you don’t care about what you do, you need to find a new job. For us, we love it here and I think it shows, and it brings people back again and again.”

Since he came to work at AC&C in 1976, Smith said the company has experienced a “slow steady growth” which led to numerous expansions in both store size and inventory. It is also a company, he said, that does what it needs to take care of its customers.

“We’re open seven days a week,” he said. “We overheard a lot of talk about people having to drive to Enterprise on Sunday if they had a project and needed something. So, our response was to open on Sunday. If our people want it, we’re going to do our best to see that they get it.”

On average, 100 transactions are made daily; on a “good Saturday” that number climbs near 150, and Smith said he doesn’t expect that number to change when other shopping options become available.

“Even with the economy the way it is, sales haven’t gone down all that much,” he said. “We’ve kept our volume maintained, and we’re trying to keep it that way. Now, I’m not bragging. We’re thankful that people shop with us.

“We can give customers that one-on-one attention they need,” he said. “With all the years of experience we have in this store — you got a question, someone here has the answer. If we don’t know, we’ll find out and we’ll both know it.

“Those other stores — they’re going to do their thing and we’ll do ours,” he said. “When Breedlove opened, it didn’t bother us. When Jimmy Cox in Carolina opened, it didn’t bother us. All of us — we’re reluctant to give up business any time but I can tell you, I think we’ll be all right.”

The same philosophy holds true at Andalusia Farmer’s and Builder’s Co-op, said assistant manager Lisa Holmes.

“Of course, (the openings) affect us a bit,” Holmes said. “But what we have is a large customer base. Sure they’ll go out and look, but I don’t expect a bunch to leave us.

“(The other stores) can’t beat our prices,” she said. “All of us here know our products and we’re able to answer questions (customers) have. If we don’t have it — be it the product or the answer they need — we’ll find it.

“That’s what makes us local people so good to do business with,” she said.