In a mystery that rivaled “Who shot J.R.?” and “Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone?” the future of the former Harris Teeter building near Salt Pond has finally been answered.
Well, to some extent.
Gerry Hocker, former Millville mayor and one of the owners of Hocker’s Super Center, and G&E Grocery and Hardware stores, told the Coastal Point earlier this week that his family has agreed to terms to purchase the Salt Pond Plaza, including the building that formerly housed Harris Teeter before that store closed its doors in February 2015.
“We were excited it was going to work out,” said Hocker. “Of course, it’s all happening right before our second-busiest weekend of the year (Memorial Day weekend), so our focus right now is on getting our stores ready for the season.”
Hocker said their employees were notified of the purchase on the morning of Tuesday, May 24, and he just wanted the chance to explain to them all before they heard it from someone else.
“They were excited,” he said. “We’re fortunate in that we have a lot of employees who have been with us for years and years. Many of them are like family to us, and we wouldn’t be able to do the things we do in the community without their support. It’s those people who keep us going and allow us to do different things.”
Hocker speculated that the G&E grocery store could eventually move into the former Harris Teeter building, with the family’s hardware store next door moving into the larger G&E facility, but he added that it’s just too soon to speculate. He also suggested moving G&E could come with some emotional tribulations for the family.
“G&E is where my father got his start,” said Hocker, referring to state Sen. Gerald Hocker, who worked in the location when his uncle owned it, before buying it himself.
“Our family has been involved in retail in this community for 70 years. We know the area, and we know the people here. This community has always been supportive of us, and we promise to continue to be supportive of this community.”
Hocker said they would obviously have to do some work in the former Harris Teeter property before they could go forward in any direction and that the family continues to keep abreast of current trends in the grocery industry.
“It’s important that we stay up to date,” explained Hocker. “But we need to also keep our eye on what our community needs, so we can set ourselves apart.”