Sunday, March 11, 2018
In an age where nearly every grocery store is owned by a corporate entity -- and they all look alike -- a true neighborhood grocery store like the CV's on the corner of Lafayette and Dickson stands out. That's why, when the news broke that the quirky store is closing later this month, many Fayettevillians expressed dismay. The store has, over the course of roughly 50 years, managed to retain its unusual charm through various incarnations that included a Safeway, IGA and a Saver's Club. And it has been an integral part of the lives of many who lived in the area.
"The IGA was my first introduction into the joy of walkable neighborhoods," says Fayetteville City Council member Sarah Marsh. "[My family] moved to the historic district when I was 14, and one of my greatest pleasures was walking to the grocery store. It was the first place I was able to go on my own, so I was always looking for an excuse to walk to the store. I still have the reusable cotton tote bags that my mom made for me so I didn't have to carry the wimpy paper ones. In college, the IGA ice cream aisle was THE place to see all of your friends after the bars closed. It was a sad day when IGA went from 24 hours to closing at 10 p.m."
‘Saying Goodbye to Big Marv’:
A Community Farewell
WHEN — 2 p.m. March 11
WHERE — CV’s Family Foods, 380 N. College Ave. in Fayetteville
COST — Free
FYI: Donations may be made to losing their jobs at www.gofundme.com/goodbyemarv.
"I shopped there on and off for years without a car when I lived downtown," says Fayetteville entrepreneur Chris Selby. "The grocery store was there, a couple of blocks from my house. It's where we went for 20 years. I never got out of there without seeing someone I knew -- a friend or, sometimes, someone I was trying to avoid."
Those commenting on the closing on social media cite the store's quirkier qualities -- such as the "produce gorilla," a giant stuffed gorilla positioned over the fruits and vegetables; the piped-in music, which eschewed the traditional, bland Muzak for a funkier, charmingly eclectic beat; and its slate of idiosyncratic regulars who stayed loyal to the store throughout its multiple changes -- as what endeared the store to them most.
"They always had weird [stuff ]," says Selby. One commenter on social media said that the store was once known as the "hippie IGA" because of its habit of carrying unusual items. "You could find brands that weren't anywhere else -- Indian food when there were no Indian restaurants and different supplies to build something that we probably should not have been comfortable building."
When Selby realized that others were as saddened by the news of the store's closing as he was, he pulled together an event -- with the help of artist and community organizer Olivia Trimble -- to be held in the parking lot of the store at 2 p.m. March 11. Though exact details are still up in the air, the "wake" promises to be as quirky and consummately Fayetteville as the store itself. Selby says he hopes to have entertainment, serve food, celebrate the history of the beloved store and bid it a fond farewell.
"Big Marv's is kind of like the last bastion of old Fayetteville," he says. "There are interesting bars and things that have been here, businesses that have been here for a long time, but this store is the last thing that kept us alive. We walked there and got our food. It just seems bizarre that something else will now be there."
Selby says he also hopes the event will raise awareness about the people who will be losing their jobs as a result of the closing. Many of those employed at the store worked there for dozens of years and are well-known to their customers. Trimble has set up a GoFundMe in conjunction with the party to try and raise money for those who will be out of work. One example is Daniel, who has worked at the store for 15 years and whom many in the community considered a close friend. Shannon Harris, a former employee of the store, said that when Daniel had his bicycle stolen -- his main means of transportation -- the community pulled together to help.
"He printed off a picture of it and told all of the customers about his bike woes and to look out for it," says Harris. "He was disabled and couldn't drive, so he either had to walk or ride his bike to work. It was really awful for him to not have it. The customers of IGA were so kind, and everyone loved Daniel so much, that Daniel got three brand new bikes. Three. And I'm talking like, nice bikes. It was really beautiful how the community wanted to help him."
"Thirty-five people are losing their jobs," says Selby. "We love the store, and the party is fun for us, but it's a very real thing for these people."
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