Successful Grocer Helps Students Attend College

 

Reid Boylston

Reid Boylston is the man behind the Reid's grocery chain which began with a family store that is now part of the Food Lion corporation. Boylston is also an active supporter of the campus who has funded scholarships that have helped 14 students obtain their college educations.

The friendly shout of “Shop at Reid’s – we can save you money!” is a well-known refrain to listeners of radio stations throughout the Salkehatchie region, and Reid Boylston, the man behind the shout, is just as well-known in the community. He walks through the Barnwell grocery store one September morning, headed to the meat counter, and is greeted by everyone he passes… store employees, vendors, and customers. This is a store that has been in his family for generations, one that he helped move from a family-owned Red and White to part of the Food Lion corporation. Reid’s is a distinct store brand that will have 11 locations throughout the state by the end of 2009. A new Reid’s opened in Cayce in August, and one is scheduled to open in Hampton right before Thanksgiving. Four other stores have undergone major renovations this year.  “We’ve been very profitable to the company, and it’s due to our nimbleness and ability to respond to changes in price very quickly,” says Boylston, director of Reid’s operations for Food Lion. He goes on to explain that because of their size, his stores can go to market one week and get great cost savings on grocery items, turn around and advertise those items for a special price the very next week, and have those specials in the next week’s paper.  Though he puts in long hours to make sure the stores that bear his name, and that of his father and grandfather before him, remain successful, Boylston makes time for community involvement. He is a member of Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in Barnwell, where he has also served in various leadership capacities, and he is a member of the Salkehatchie Healthy Communities Collaborative Board of Directors. One of his longest-standing contributions is his service on the Western Carolina Higher Education Commission, the regional board associated with USC Salkehatchie. He has served on that board for more than 30 years, serving as secretary, treasurer, and vice-chairman before being elected chairman in 2006.  “It was an honor to be asked to serve, but I was also interested because I had attended Salkehatchie briefly until I transferred to Columbia,” explains Boylston. One of his sons also attended the campus before graduating from the Columbia campus, and Boylston says the local campus is vital to many local residents, making it an integral part of the region.  “I think higher education is the answer to a lot of the socioeconomic problems we have in this area,” he says. “It also brings a lot of diversity to the area because we have people coming here from all over the country and world.”  This year brings a major change to a scholarship program that Boylston established in 1996 through what was then Reid’s Inc., something he first decided to do because of that belief in local access to higher education. The Barnwell High School Scholarship covered the full cost of tuition for a graduating senior from that school who chose to attend USC Salkehatchie, and Food Lion took over the sponsorship when they acquired Reid’s. In recognition of the fact that Reid’s stores are now located throughout the Salkehatchie service area, the scholarship is now the Reid’s Scholarship and will be awarded to a deserving student from any of the area high schools. Boylston and his wife also sponsor the Reid and Louise Boylston Scholarship at USC Salkehatchie.  “The reason we chose to support the campus in this way was two-fold,” Boylston explains. “I think my being a Commission member, it was somewhat of an obligation, and I felt like the University has been good to me and my family and the community, and I wanted to help the University. I see that the Columbia campus gets a lot of donations, and I wanted to do something that would benefit Salkehatchie directly.”