Friday final day of business for Purple Cow deli & grocery - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Friday final day of business for Purple Cow deli & grocery

(Columbia) Feb. 28, 2003 - On Friday at 6:00pm the Purple Cow grocery store and delicatessen will close its doors for the last time. The store has catered to people in Columbia since 1989.

Rance Dallas, son of owner Rusty Dallas, says increasing rent and dwindling customers prompted the decision, "It's one of those things. It's kind of costly to stay open any more. We've lost some of our good customers to some of the bigger places ... and it's harder to stay open."

Rusty Dallas says business has gone down since new grocery stores began moving into the area. Just two months ago a Publix opened on Rosewood Drive, "The grocery business has declined as more grocery stores come into Columbia. We hate that, because we can't make it alone on hot food stuff right now."

Lisa Winn says the larger selection makes supermarkets more attractive than the smaller stores, "Now that I have two children, I go to the grocery store and buy the whole big shopping cart full of groceries and I have to cook for them myself. So, I don't get in as often as I used to."

The Purple Cow stands the corner of Pickens and Rice Streets. Originally called the Green Grocer, owners say the name has evolved into the current bovine-inspired one thanks to Violet the purple cow, whose name has also evolved from Iris, then to Gertrude then to the current, colorful name.

Neighbors and people in the community say they will truly miss this place.

Rusty Dallas says his customers' dedication is a reflection of the shop, "It's just a warm atmosphere and a neighborhood grocery store. We know people by name, and they know us by name when they come in." He says you never know who you'll see, "We've got young, old, professional people, university students, lots of university staff, coaches come in here."

USC baseball Coach Ray Tanner is a regular, "I certainly enjoy the good friendships and Rusty and Flo and visiting and having a little camaraderie and great food." He says Rusty even made him a special table, complete with a baseball and bat.

Coach Tanner, who says he eats at the Purple Cow three or four times a week, had there Friday. He says the business was part of his introduction to the Capital City, "The first food I had when I moved to Columbia was here at the Purple Cow. I got a sandwich here on my first official visit."

Rance Dallas says he's exploring the option of opening a Purple Cow deli based on Flo's famous kitchen in Columbia in the near future, "It's possible. There is a spot, and we're looking into it." As Joe Pinner says, the Purple Cow may still find an-utter life.

updated 12:38pm by Chris Rees

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