Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ric Flair Shuts Down "The Pantry"

by Peggy Lathan
Special for the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Every Monday night after the wrestling matches in Greenville, the wrestlers would go to a local convenience store and buy beer and snacks for the trip back to Charlotte. The snacks were optional - the beer was mandatory. Anyway, one of the local stores where they stopped was at the Day-N-Nite store on Laurens Road.  Almost all of the wrestlers stopped there, along with many of the fans (me being one of them). It wasn't unusual to see the bad guys sitting in their cars waiting on the good guys to leave, and vice versa. In any event, the parking lot and store were full of people, most of them following the Nature Boy Ric Flair, who would graciously pose for pictures and sign autographs for sometimes 30 minutes or more. Ric was always in a good mood. And there was always a huge crowd.

Later, the wrestlers stopped going to the Day-N-Nite store and started stopping at The Pantry on Haywood Road. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it had a bigger parking lot!

One Monday night Ric stopped at The Pantry and the parking lot started filling up with cars.  The cashier evidently was new and nervous about the big crowd, because he called the police. The police car rolls up, barely finding room to park. The officer comes in and is asking what the deal was and why everyone was there. They pointed out Ric and the policeman laughed and worked his way up to Ric and told him he needed to finish up and move on because all the cars were blocking potential customers from coming in the store. Of course, Ric was parked at the front, so he had to wait until all the other cars moved before he could get out, which led to more pictures and autographs.  I'm betting the sales at that store while Ric was there were way more than their "potential customers" spent the rest of the night after he left.

I thought of this story because I work for a law firm and a lady came in a few months ago because her dad had died. She mentioned that he was the owner of the old Day-N-Nite store. I told her I used to go there every Monday night.  She said, "Were you part of that wrestling crowd?"  I said yes. She said her dad hated Monday nights because of so many people being in his store. He loved all the money that came in, but that many people in his store made him nervous.

Forty years later, we're talking about wrestling on Monday nights in Greenville. Small world, huh?