The doors have closed on a longtime retail store in Tappahannock.
Whether or not those doors will reopen, however, remains to be seen.
As of July 31, Southern States Cooperative Inc., one of the largest cooperatives in the nation, closed or consolidated over 20 of its 1,244 retail stores across 17 states.
Only one location in Virginia, the Southern States in Tappahannock, was affected.
The business shut down its retail showroom on July 25 while keeping open its wholesale services to farmers, Essex County’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Chairman Bill Croxton confirmed last Thursday.
Three employees were laid off as a result of the showroom shutting down, according to Steve Patterson, Southern States vice president of marketing and communications.
The showroom closure was the direct result of a new business strategy that would allow the company “to be more streamlined and efficient from sourcing products to application in our farmers’ fields,” Southern States’ President and
CEO Tom Scribner said in a July 15 press release.
“For years Southern States has been organized around wholesale and retail business units,” Scribner said. “To ensure we create great customer experiences, we are aligning our infrastructure and associates to meet the evolving needs of our farmer producers and rural lifestyle customers.”
Scribner added: “True to our mission of helping people grow things, it is our belief that an intense focus on the producer will allow us to meet and exceed our customer’s needs. The agricultural industry is changing rapidly and we plan to be at the forefront of those improvements.”
In response to the changes, the Essex County Board of Supervisors and IDA sent a letter to Southern States’ asking them to reconsider closing the Tappahannock showroom based on the needs of county citizens to purchase retail goods locally, Greater Tappahannock Dist. Supervisor and Chairman Stanley Langford said last Wednesday.
As of press time, o response from the company has been given.
County Administrator Reese Peck praised the IDA and supervisors for being active in reaching out to the business community of Essex County.
“They want to work with our business community to make them successful,” Peck said.
The retail operations of Southern States’ Tappahannock showroom have been divided between King William, Gloucester and Warsaw.
Southern States Cooperative Inc. supplies seed, fertilizer, horse feed and other supplies related to lawn, garden, farm, home, livestock and pet needs.
For more information on Southern States, visit http://www.southernstates.com/.