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Minding the store
40 years later, after-school snacks still special
Allen McClure has decided to sell his Little Giant grocery business that has been open on Atlanta Highway for the past 40 years. Fay Davis has worked at the longtime business for the past 28 years.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, kids from the nearby Chicopee neighborhood, just off Atlanta Highway south of Gainesville, made it a regular after-school stop.

The Little Giant Grocery was a respite after a long day of hitting the books, as it were, said the store’s now-former owner Allen McClure. He bought the business, located just off the sharp curve in Atlanta Highway before it hits the old Chicopee Mill property, in August 1968.

Forty-one years and two months, to the day, from when he bought the store, McClure, 68, signed the papers that gave a Winder businessman the ownership of his longtime establishment. As of Wednesday, McClure was officially retired.

And, he said, he’s seen a lot of changes since he took ownership of that store 41 years ago.

"Everything. It’s changed tremendously," McClure said from his regular perch at the store, where he’s still lending a hand, even in retirement. "Different clientele, over and over, (in) different times. It’s changed in the fact that when I first came here, there was only a couple of stores between here and Browns Bridge Road.

"Anybody can see there’s quite a few more stores today."

Despite the ownership change, the store will remain open, he said. Longtime clerk Fay Davis, who has worked with McClure for 28 years, said she’ll continue to ring up purchases for snacks and sodas.

Same thing with the regular customers, some of whom have been stopping by since their younger days in the Chicopee neighborhood.

"There’s three older gentlemen, they come in every morning and sit and have coffee," she said, adding that they’ll joke that "they say they’ll need to find a new place to hang out."

But that won’t be necessary, she said. For now, things will stay the same as the new owner gets a handle on the business and its customers. And that’s why McClure continues to help out in the store.

Some call it a neighborhood convenience store, with customers walking in from nearby homes. McClure simply says it is a store with some history and a unique character.

In fact, that may be the one thing that hasn’t changed since when he took over the store back in 1968, when Atlanta Highway was bordered by farms rather than strip malls.

"It was kind of a unique place for them, and all the parents knew where they were," said McClure of the students who used to hang out there after school in his early days of running the store. "If a parent were looking for a kid, they would call the store. This is usually where they were."