Two years ago I wrote about Mr. Robert Pace, and his family establishment, the M.A. Pace General Store in Saluda, NC. Sadly, Mr. Pace passed away not long after I visited with him, and for a while the future of the store was in jeopardy. But thankfully, the store was bought by Judy and Leon Morgan, who realized that the store was a treasure just the way it was, and vowed to modernize it without losing the special character of the place.
Talk like that makes me nervous, because I’ve seen what new owners can do to an old, established business like M.A. Pace. Modernize often means make touristy, and the result is often a business that forgets that the people living in the community are their main customers. Gone are the baskets of nails and the bins of fresh produce, and in their place are shelves of rustic looking pottery from China and Life is Good tee shirts.
I’m happy to report that the Morgan’s achieved their goal. The character of the old place is left intact, but the selection of foods and sundries is much improved. They managed to select things that would appeal to visitors, while maintaining their position as a community hub.
Best of all, they have made a sort of museum of Saluda memorabilia that lines the walls above the shelves. Local residents have donated enough interesting old stuff to keep you engaged for quite a while. And all that old merchandise? It’s still there, though moved up higher to allow for merchandise that is actually for sale! Another plus is that they have made a true effort to source USA made products, including Pointer jeans and Lodge cookware.
Saluda is located just off I-26 between Asheville and Spartanburg, SC. If you are traveling that highway, do yourself a big favor, take a few minutes to stop in and say “Hey” to the Morgans.