Granny White Market owners forced out after 19 years

Before the front door has a chance to close all the way, another customer flings it back open.

Inside, a line of hungry construction workers waiting for pizza and sandwiches begins to form. Behind them, a little boy’s hand holds onto his mother while his other hand sifts through a candy display.

It’s lunchtime at Granny White Market.

But after operating for 19 years, the family-owned business will soon come to an abrupt end.

“We’re out on the street. No reason, no warning, no letter,” Granny White Market owner Dan Smith said. “It’s sickening.”

On Tuesday, Smith said the market’s landlord, Reece Smith, president of Haury & Smith Contractors, gave the family six weeks to leave.

“I’m still in shock,” Dan Smith said Friday. “It’s horrible. I’m left with nothing after 19 years.”

Smith added that the short notice has left his family unprepared to sell the business or look for a new location.

Reece Smith said the market will not be demolished or developed, but rather a new owner will take over operations.

“Somehow the rumor got out there that we were going to shut it down and tear it down, but the Granny White Market will live on; it will just have a new proprietor, which will be sometime in October,” Smith said. “But it will still be the Granny White Market and it will continue to be there for a long time as far as I’m concerned.”

He added that the new owner has not been confirmed.

Nestled in the bedroom community of Forest Hills, the market, also known as the Purple Cow, serves as a convenience store. But for the customers who come in to snag a meat-and-three special and stretch their legs out on the market’s purple benches and rocking chairs, it’s much more than a convenience store – it’s a slice of home.

“Our neighborhood doesn’t have a city center or a little town center – Granny White Market is it,” said Terry Jo Bichell, a customer and Forest Hills resident. “That’s where people get together.”

On Friday, Lynn Trosdal, a Brentwood resident, walked out of the market with her son – her hands full with drinks and snacks.

Like many customers, Trosdal takes her children to the market before or after school – especially on Friday for the homemade cinnamon rolls.

“I just love the neighborhood market feel,” Trosdal said. “We get sandwiches and gumballs from the gumball machine. And if you don’t have a quarter they will provide one. That’s just how they are. They’re just so sweet.”

“We love this place. We’d be very sad to see it go.”

Despite the uncertainty about his family’s future, Dan Smith, along with his daughter Linzey, still bustled behind the market’s counter on Friday.

Dan even cracked a few jokes here and there with customers.

His smile was cheerful, but his eyes remained worrisome.

“They just love us to death out here,” he said. “They don’t want anyone else to come out here.”

Customers love the market so much that they’ve launched an online petition as well as a GoFundMe for the Smith family.

The petition began Thursday and had about 2,700 signatures Friday morning — a little more than half the signatures requested. Within 18 hours of being launched, the GoFundMe has reached about $400 out of its $5,000 goal.

Forest Hills resident Brian Dougherty said his 14-year-old daughter, Sassy, decided to launch the GoFundMe Thursday night after hearing the store was closing.

Dougherty hopes the funds will be able to help Dan and his wife Debra transition financially after they close their doors.

“It’s the only commercial business in Forest Hills and it really serves the community in so many ways. I think that’s why so many people are so emotional about it,” Doughtery said. “Everyone wants to do something just to show support.”

After nearly two decades in business, Dan Smith said he’ll be left with nothing by October. Nothing except memories.

“I’ve watched customers’ kids growing up. It’s heartwarming,” Dan said. “I just wish…I wish we could hang on.”

For more information, visit www.gofundme.com/the-purple-cow-comor www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/save-the-purple-cow

Reach Collin Czarnecki at 615-852-1130 or on Twitter @CollinReports