There aren’t many corner stores these days where the lady behind the counter knows your name, said Jennifer Tolson.
But when she stops at Number One Market in North Augusta to stock up on fruit juice for her toddlers, she said it’s like visiting friends.
“The people here are always friendly. They know who you are, and they treat you better than a clerk at a gas station,” Tolson said.
For 15 years, the Moore family has run Number One Market Bait and Tackle – a few miles from the Savannah River – with a mom-and-pop feel. They’ve seen a change in their customers’ needs and what it takes to compete with the big-box stores, but their mission has stayed the same.
“We’re almost obsessive about it,” owner Diane Moore said. “We call you by your name; we say hello. It’s old-fashioned service and old-fashioned people that we like.”
Moore and her husband, Dean, bought the property at U.S. Highway 1 and Cherokee Drive around 1997. They started out selling mostly cigarettes and beer but soon expanded to provide bait and tackle.
When they opened, Dean Moore said, they were one of the few convenience stores along that stretch of highway. As drugstores popped up and competition with chains grew, the family had to change their strategy.
Today, customers come in to buy anything from beef jerky to fishing hooks. The store has a hardware section, live crickets for bait, boiled peanuts, mulch, soda and snacks. It also makes spare keys.
The family said they lost some business and found that distributors are now reluctant to sell to mom-and-pop stores, but faithful customers have kept them going.
“If we don’t sell a little of everything, we wouldn’t be here,” Dean Moore said. “We have people come in every day saying, ‘I had no idea y’all were out here,’ and just want to take a look around.”
The Moores’ son, Dustin, 21, began working full time at the store after high school. He used to help his dad at the register during the summers and learned how to ride his bike as a child in the parking lot.
Dustin Moore said he treats every customer as a regular, and some show up every day. He knows many by their first names and others only by nicknames, such as Country and Marlboro Man.
Dustin and Dean began fishing in tournaments several years ago to get the word out about the store. The hundreds of fishermen who flock to Thurmond Lake and the Savannah River for the bass and bream now buy their live worms and speciality hooks at Number One Market.
“We cater to the local people the way the big stores really can’t,” Dean Moore said. “We know what’s here in the water, and we know what to give the customers. But they’ll never tell what they’re fishing with. They keep it secret.”
The store has a rustic wood exterior with deer head and fish plastered on the walls inside. The Moores don’t do much advertising, and most of their customers come by word of mouth.
They are working on a Web site but said the store speaks for itself.
“This is like a home to us, and that’s what we show our customers,” Dean Moore said. “We want to try to continue that – to grow and make a living and be happy.”