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Former Gruber’s Grocery reopens as “Poor Man’s Friend”

Horace Campbell is the proud owner of “Poor Man’s Friend Community Store.

The former Gruber’s Grocery Store has reopened and is being run as a one-stop-shop and community gathering place.
The former store is now owned and operated by Horace Campbell, a 77-year-old native of Clarendon, Jamaica. Campbell has ties to the local community: he recently purchased land in the area and also the store, deciding to spend his retirement years living in Colleton County.
“When my father bought the land, he said he wanted to open the store for the community here. It’s for the people of this community, and this is where my father wants to spend his days,” said Kolie Campbell, Horace’s daughter. Kolie is working in the store and has moved to Colleton from New York to help her father see his dream come to fruition.
“My mother is from Round O, and my family has ties here,” she said.
The store is now called “The Poor Man’s Friend.” It is offering customers and passers-by anything they might need, from grocery items to baby items and beer and oil. There is also a kitchen in the back of the store, and Kolie says they have plans to start soon selling fish and chicken.
“The vision is to be eclectic, and to give people what they need and want,” she said. “We want this to be a place where people come and sit and enjoy each other. It’s not just a place to buy what you need in a remote part of our county,” she said.
The store officially opened on September 2nd, but there will be a grand opening planned for this Saturday, October 5th. “Every day, it gets more of a crowd,” said Kolie. “The people are friendly.”
The store first opened in 1961 by Leroy and Evelyn Gruber. It was considered a general store, meaning the store sold nearly everything that a remote and rural community would need. At one point, Kolie says the store even sold shoes and clothing.
“They sold gas and oil, they sold crabs, shrimp, shad fish, and catfish when it was all in season,” she said.
The owners also owned beehives and would sell fresh honey and locally-ground cane syrup from the store’s shelves.
The couple ran the store for nearly 31 years until it closed in 1991. Family members of the Gruber Family told The Colletonian they are grateful to the Campbell family for reopening their former store.
“My sister, Valaree Howard, and I appreciate it very much for the reopening of Gruber’s Grocery for the community’s needs and any tourists,” said Mitchell Gruber, in a written statement. “Thank you to Mr. Horace Campbell and his family for reopening the store.”
The Poor Man’s Store is now open Monday-Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Sundays, the store is open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. It is located at the corner of Augusta Highway and Sidneys Road.

Gruber’s Grocery “back in the day”. Former owners Leroy and Evelyn Gruber opened the store in 1961.

Heather Walters (1724 Posts)