Southern States


Until it closed in 2014, the Southern States farm co-op store was
 a fixture in downtown Huntington for more than 60 years.


HUNTINGTON — When the corporate office of Southern States Cooperative
 recommended that the farm co-op’s Huntington store be closed,
 local farmers, gardeners, animal lovers and public officials
 voiced their support for keeping the store open.

At a meeting Aug. 15, 2013, members of the local co-op voted 86 to 42
 to keep the store at 1329 7th Ave. open for business. Some Southern
 States stores are corporate-owned but others, like that in Huntington,
 are owned by local cooperatives. This meant the store could
 not be closed without the cooperative’s approval.

The vote on keeping the store open came even though Southern States
Regional Manager Terry Sweat told the meeting the store was in
 the red and in fact had lost money in nine of the past 10 years.

After the meeting, Sweat warned that only a tremendous outpouring
 of community support could keep the store open permanently.
Many of those at the meeting vowed that support would be
 forthcoming but a year later the support didn’t prove
 strong enough to stave off the store’s closure.

After a four-hour meeting Aug. 26, 2014, the board
voted to close the store, a fixture in downtown
 Huntington for more than 60 years.

The store opened in the early 1940s at 740 3rd Ave. and moved
 to its 7th Avenue location in 1949. Customers who showed up
 at the store the morning after the Aug. 26 meeting found a
 blue tarp covering the front doors and a sign
reading “Closed. Out of business.”

Norm Davis, a Fort Gay cattle farmer who chaired
the co-op’s local board, described the decision
 to close the store as inevitable.

“It wasn’t a decision we wanted to make, but the economics
 weren’t there,” Davis said. “The things we did to keep it
 open just weren’t enough to make it a viable business.”

Today, the co-op’s former 7th Avenue building remains vacant.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Aug. 10, 2021.


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