For 20 years, Steve McClain has been coming to Scruggs Poultry to buy cases of fresh chicken that would last his family for the month.
On Friday morning, he was disappointed to see a “We Are Closed” sign on the front door of the processing and distribution facility at 751 Fenner Road.
Since 1949, the business has sold poultry and meats on a wholesale basis. The business also sold cases of chicken and meats to walk-in customers who came up to a window by the front door of the business.
“It’s been open for a long time,” McClain said.
Buying poultry in bulk at Scruggs has saved his family a substantial amount of money over the years, he said.
“It was cheaper to come here,” McClain said. “I don’t know what people are going to do now. When we’d be having cookouts and stuff like that, it was cheaper to come and buy a case of chicken from here.”
Cases he would buy contained 22 whole chickens, he said.
“Their price was good,” McClain said. “They sold most everything. You could come in there and buy steaks, pork chops, bacon, chicken or ground beef.”
A man who answered the door Friday morning at Scruggs Poultry said they had no comment about the business closing. He could not provide the number of people the company employed.
Ellen Jones used to travel from Tarboro to buy boxes of meat from Scruggs.
She said the closing has left a huge void.
“I used to go there to buy chicken from them every month,” she said. “I went there sometimes twice a month. I go there and buy my stuff by the case.”
One case that cost $76 contained spare ribs, chicken, eggs, hamburger and bacon, Jones said.
“I’d buy a case of chicken for $60,” she said.
She said she also bought fresh hens and other meats at Scruggs at reasonable prices.
“They had bacon slabs, whole pig, chicken-by-the-case, beef ribs,” she said. “You name it.”
Her children loved Scruggs turkey wings, which she served at Thanksgiving, she said.
“My children had a fit because of them being so small,” she said. “That’s how they like them.”
Charlie Tyson, director of the Nash County Cooperative Extension Service, said he didn’t know much about Scruggs. But generally speaking, smaller wholesale suppliers like Scruggs can have a difficult time competing against larger poultry and meat suppliers, Tyson said.
“Larger companies can purchase in bulk,” he said. “They can be more efficient with use of equipment. They can sell in higher volume. Often times, a small business has to find particular niches in the market they can satisfy better than a large supplier.”
Nash County Board of Commissioners Chairman Fred Belfield, who worked for the Nash County Extension Service from 1961 to 1997, said Scruggs was a popular destination for people wanting to buy chicken for a cookout, church event or fundraiser. People will be disappointed to learn of the closing, he said.
“It means you’ve got to go to the store and get (meat),” he said. “I think that is the only processing poultry plant in the area that I know of.”