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Halifax bread store victim of Hostess closing

Merita Bread store customers this week are left wondering where their next loaf of bread is coming from after learning the store owned by Hostess Brands Inc. will soon be closing.  

The store located on Hamilton Boulevard in South Boston that has provided affordable bread and snack goods to area customers for years will be closing its doors due to a Bakers Union strike, according to a press release by Hostess Brands Inc.

On Nov. 16 Hostess Brands Inc. announced it was winding down operation and filed a motion to close its business and sell its assets including its iconic brands and facilities.

Twinkies, Drakes, Ding Dongs, Dolly Madison, Ho Ho’s, Sno Balls, Wonder, Nature’s Pride, Merita and Home Pride are among the brands of cakes and breads owned by the company to be sold.

At this time, bakery operations have been suspended at all plants, and hostess brands retail stores will remain open for several days to sell already baked products. 

So where does that leave Twinkie lovers in Halifax County?

Merita bread shoppers here can find their favorites breads and snack goods at half price while supplies last. As long as bread is on the shelves, the store will remain open, according to local Store Manger Linda Bishop.  

On Saturday shoppers crowded into the store to buy the last of their favorites snacks and breads, and by Monday the store had completely sold out of Twinkies and other popular Hostess cakes.

“Those were the first to go,” Bishop said.

Bread store employees said they found out Friday morning the store would be closing, according Bishop, who has been with the company for 21 years.

She said the closing didn’t come as a shock to her.

Bishop said the store in South Boston is one of 36 other stores to close, and she doesn’t see any possibility of the store reopening.

Currently, Bishop said she doesn’t have any jobs prospects lined up and plans to stick with company until the end. 

When the liquidation of the South Boston store is complete, she plans to go on the road to help close others.

Customers who came to pick up their last loaves of Merita and Wonder bread on Monday shared how the closing will affect them.

Leenora Whyce, a frequent shopper at the bread store, said “I’m sorry to see it go because this where I get all my bread from.”

Whyce said she plans to start shopping at the Flowers bread store located in Centerville.

Carl Foley, a customer from Roxboro, N.C. who has made a name for himself among store employees as the Cookie Monster for being a frequent buyer of their cookies, was also sad to hear the news.

“I hate to see them go out of business because it’s the main store for this area. Every time I come in here, it’s packed,” Foley said.

Bishop described Foley as “a faithful customer.” Foley is holding on to the hope another company will buy Hostess Inc. and continue to sell their goods.

Eunice Easley, who frequents the store twice a week, said, “It’s really devastating because it is very convenient for us here because we can get everything we need at reduced rates, and it’s good, and it’s fresh, and I’m gonna miss it.”

Easley said the store has been a part of the community for so long, and people working there have been so friendly and willing to help.

Bobby Ferguson, who visits the store once or twice a week, also was disappointed to hear the store will be closing.

“It’s really a let down for the neighborhood for a lot of people who depend on the store,” Ferguson said.

He plans to shop at Farmers Food or Dollar Tree as an alternative.

Bonnie Shotwell said she had been shopping at the store since they opened years ago. She said she hates the store is closing but is glad she still knows how to make bread. Shotwell said if push comes to shove, she will have to settle for paying the high prices at the grocery store.

Doris Cole who has been shopping at the store for the past five years said, “I just hate to see it close. I shop here every week.”

Like Ferguson, Coles plans to shop at Farmer Foods as an alternative.