Independent grocer Roy Pope Grocery, a West Fort Worth institution for almost eight decades, has decided to call it quits.
The owners made the announcement March 19 in a letter posted in the store and on the store’s website. The letter invited customers to come in and buy products for the last time and “renew cherished memories of this establishment.”
The closure comes at a time when many big-box grocery stores are struggling to keep their shelves stocked amid the COVID-19 pandemic and other small businesses are turning off the lights temporarily. But owner Bob Larance says it wasn’t the virus that led to the store shuttering — the timing was only coincidence.
“We’ve had declining sales over the last four or five years,” says Larance, who’s owned the store for 30 years. “The virus had nothing to do with it. The only thing the virus did was create a lot of panic shopping in here, which made it easier. But the decision had already been made prior to that.”
Larance says he intended to sell the store and keep its legacy going.
“But you’ve got to have people to support these things, or your options are to sell it or close it,” he says. “I tried selling it and that didn’t happen, so I’m going to close it.”
The gourmet grocer was once the only place to find exotic products like prosciutto, stuffed olives, and mustard that spanned beyond “classic yellow.” Opened in 1943 by Roy and Rose Pope, the store originally shared space with a washateria, a shoe repair shop, and a dry cleaning business.
The institution never moved from its original location at 2300 Merrick St., in one of Fort Worth’s toniest neighborhoods.
Larance became Roy Pope’s store manager in 1976 when working for then-owner John LeMond, who purchased the store after Roy Pope died in 1968. In 1990 LeMond retired and sold to Larance, who’s managed the business with his wife Renee ever since.
With just 6,000 square feet of selling space, including a small seating area for dining from the deli and a spacious corner dedicated to an extensive wine collection, Larance never had room to waste. He sustained business despite ever-growing competition by stocking only what his customers wanted, so much that regulars would come in asking for their “usual.”
Beef was hand-ground in-house for burgers and prime cuts could be butchered to the customer’s liking. Larance also carried an array of wild game including buffalo, quail, and duck, along with salmon and sea bass.
At 72 years old, Larance had already cut back his work schedule to spend more time with his grandkids, letting tenured employees carry the load.
“I’ve been in this place a lot longer than I expected to be,” he says.
Roy Pope Grocery will operate from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday, indefinitely, until inventory is cleared. A going-out-of-business sale is offering 20 percent off everything in the store.