Vernon small businesses work to compete with chain stores

VERNON, TX (KAUZ) - A new hardware store coming to Vernon may have an impact on family-owned businesses.

ACE Hardware will sit where a family-owned grocery store is now after it was bought out by its competitors.

After more than 40 years, Coy's Discount Foods will close its doors. At one at one point, the mom and pop grocery chain had five locations across Texoma. Some loyal customers took the news a little hard.

"[I'm] totally distraught, totally upset, really disappointed and I [can't] understand why but it is what it is," Dorene Johnson said.

Bambi Nava, Coy's owner, said business slowed down after bigger conglomerates like United Supermarkets and Walmart opened nearby.

"The larger stores have bigger buying opportunity to get discounted products so it is harder for the smaller independents to keep up," Nava said. "Walmart has everything you need and those customers that start buying over there are getting air filters they're going to get their groceries while they're there."

The competitors down the street, United Supermarkets, bought her business and her equipment but not the building. Some of the money will pay for a debt they collected after they remodeled the grocery store.

"I took it upon myself to go out and find another business to bring into our community," Nava said. "I didn't want an empty building in our community so I went to ACE and found a buyer."

There is already a hardware store, Sumner-Colley Labor Company, in town which is less than a mile away from the future ACE building.

"I don't worry about it too much. We try to pride ourselves on customer service and have a broad assortment to choose from and offer our customers," Bob Beazley owner of Sumner-Colley said. "Competition is tougher against a big chain but we have some buying groups we buy through too. We have some resources there that can help us stay competitive against everybody else."

Sumner-Colley opened in the 1920s and it has been a Vernon staple ever since. Some customers said they developed a friendship with the 12 employees.

"Most of these employees I've been knowing for years right there," Harlan Screws said. "Some of them since they were about [knee-high]."
Harlan said he started shopping at Sumner-Colley since he was 10 and the lower prices offered at ACE will not sway him.

"Oh no, I will always come in here. I'll always come in here," he said.

There is no word yet when ACE will open in Vernon but Coy's will close its doors December 13 for the last time at 8:00 p.m. Nava said all 24 Coy's employees were offered jobs at United Supermarkets and the new ACE Hardware including her and her father.

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