Early Grocery Stores of L’Anse GriseIn 1930, the population of what was considered the area of L’Anse Grise was approximately 500, much more than the estimate for today’s population, which stands at roughly 200 for about the same area. The relatively small size of the community did not hinder the business of grocery selling. As almost all of the food, and goods needed, which were not produced on the farm, were purchased at these local country stores, they provided a valuable service to these residents. Were it not for these local stores, residents would have had to travel quite a distance by buggy or wagon, in the early years, to purchase necessary goods. The appearance of the automobile, and the building of large chain stores in nearby towns, were probably what eventually put most of the small stores out of business.
Although the country stores were nowhere near Winn-Dixie in size, there were as many as three stores open at the same time in the area, store number six (below), store number eight, and store number eleven. Over the last 90 years there have been about thirteen stores that have come and gone in L’Anse Grise. Some were open for just a year or two, and at least one was open for about 60 years under different proprietorships, the last owner keeping it for 37 years. Here are the grocery stores that have been discovered by speaking to some of the residents of the area, in the approximate order of the year of their operation. We will use the location of Mr. A. J. Guillory’s store for a reference point; it was located west of Highway 13, on the south-west corner and (appropriately) A. J. Lane, at a point approximately 1.7 miles north of the intersection of Highways 10 and 13 (Barber Spur or the "Y").
1. One of the two oldest stores my research uncovered was one owned by Mr. Jean Baptiste "Willie" and Mrs. Alixe Chapman. It is not known when he opened the store, but, when he died on 24 June 1922 , the store was still in operation. It was probably located about ¼ to ½ mile west of Mr. A. J.’s store, on what is now Chapman Lane, where his house is still located, although uninhabited. The store was apparently closed after he died because the equipment and merchandise were sold at his estate auction. Included in auction was one "rice and grist mill," which meant that he probably provided that service the community. One of the pieces of equipment that was auctioned was a surrey, that, I was told, was used to deliver groceries. It would appear that there was actually home delivery back then.
2. The other was a store opened sometime before 1918 by Mr. Arcille and Mrs. Cora Guillory in what is probably considered the very outer limits, if there is one, of L’Anse Grise. It was located on Heritage Road, on the road that leaves the L’Anse Grise area and heads toward Pine Prairie, about 3 miles north of the Vidrine Community. Read more about Mr. Arcille Guillory here:
3. Mr. Loudy (not sure of spelling or last name) owned and operated a store a short distance down the road heading west from highway 13, approximately ½ mile south of A. J.’s store. I have not been able to gain any more information on this store.
4. There was also a store owned by Mr. Simon and Mrs. Lonia Guillory, on the north side of what is now Red Fox Lane 1/2 mile east of A. J.'s store. From the description of the location, it had to be on the southeast corner of Mr. Ortemon Ortego's property, where Mr. Charles Yielding now lives. I don't have much information on that store.
5. Mr. Alias Brunet operated a store that was located somewhere at the end of Red Fox Lane. The location has not been pinpointed yet, but will keep working on it. The store was open for about 2 years.
6. The next one was the one we knew as the A. J. Guillory store. It was built and opened by Mr. Thelisma "'Tit Monde" Deshotels. He later sold it to Mr. Abbie Fontenot, who then sold it to Mr. Leroy and Mrs. Irene Fontenot. Mr. A. J. and Mrs. Verly Mae Guillory purchased the store from Mr. and Mrs. Leroy in 1951. Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Guillory operated the business until 1988 when the widening of highway 13 claimed the building. Mr. and Mrs. A. J. had their home built onto the store. The building was remodeled a few times to accommodate the needs of the growing business.
7. There was one on the east side of highway 13, approximately 1/8 of mile south of Mr. A. J.’s store. It isn’t certain if all of the owners are known, or who built it, but the first owner we know of is Mr. Hampton "‘Tit Hamp" Guillory, then Mr. Tanzy Fontenot, Mr. Leo and Mrs. Virgene Guillory, Mr. Alex Deville, Mr. Elford and Mrs. Vicy Saucier, Mr. Dudley and Mrs. Peggy Richard. The store was closed some time around 1966. When Mr. Tanzy Fontenot had the store, I remember that he had a rice and grist mill, which raises the possibility that that the mill was bought at Mr. Jean Baptiste Chapman’s auction. My father would bring rice for hulling and corn for grinding into corn meal there.
8. Mr. Hampton "Gros Hamp" Guillory also had a store for a while just north of store number 5.
9. Mr. Leroy and Mrs. Irene Fontenot opened a store for a while where they are living now, but later closed it and bought the store owned by Mr. Abbie Fontenot. Some time after that they sold it to Mr. A. J. and Verly Mae Guillory.
10. Mr. Frank and Mrs. Rita Fontenot owned and operated a small grocery store for a short time across the road from Mr. A. J.’s store.
11. Mr. Kuelise and Mrs. Elia Landerneau owned a store some time on the east side of highway 13, about ¼ mile south of Mr. A. J.’s store.
12. In the 1950s Mr. Kirby and Mrs. Meda Vidrine opened small store attached to their house on the south corner of the dead-in of Red Fox Lane. It probably wasn’t opened for more than a year.
13. Mr. Ulfay and Mrs. Guillory were late comers on the grocery store scene. They built and opened a store just north of Mr. A. J.’s store. He operated the store until his death. His son Donald Guillory took over the operation of the store until he sold it to Mr. J. C. Soileau. Mr. A. J. later bought what was left of the store after it closed down.
Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Fontenot, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Guillory and Mr. Donald Fuselier for information provided in personal interviews.
Dowell Lafleur - 1 May 2006