Roy L. Hardee, Sr., though he was born to a farming family, decided he would find other work to do when he was quite young. He is the son of George W. and Annie Norris Hardee and was born Nov. 1, 1898. While he was still in high school, he made ice cream to sell on the streets of Loris. He tried banking briefly, but his career ended after three days. Although he farmed most of the year, he worked in the warehouses during the season.
His first real job off the farm was with W. J. Hughes who owned the Loris Drug Store when it was located in the building which is now the Loris Fashion Center. Not long after he worked in the old Gate City Cash Store, owned by E.L. Smith and others. Eventually he bought Smith's interest and, with his partner, W.D. "Bill" Graham, renamed it the Loris Cash Store. When the old McNabb store across the street became vacant, they moved the business there. The business sold everything from school books to feed to cloth and groceries. He wanted to return to farming after a while and did, but found it no easier than it had been before. For a while he tried his luck in Spartanburg and at Stephens before he returned to Loris and the Loris Cash Store, then owned by Dan W. Hardwick and Mack Spivey.
When they wished to get out of the business, Hardee bought it. He survived the Depression, during which he married Stella Fowler, May 6, 1934. They had two sons, Roy Lee, Jr. and Donald, both of whom make homes in Loris.
The Loris Cash Store abandoned the old wooden building in 1945 for a new brick building which eventually became Hardee's IGA about 1964. This modern grocery store is managed now by his son and namesake.
Roy Lee Hardee, Sr. married Stella Fowler in 1934 and began the family grocery business, The Loris Cash Store, but Hardee laughingly said, "It was credit all the way."
Farming was the area's main income at that time. Farmers paid their debts in the fall when their crops were sold. Sometimes their entire year's bill at The Loris Cash Store was only $40, but that was a large amount in those days when money was scarce.
Roy Lee Hardee, Jr. remembers that when he was young, his father sometimes walked out on the porch and looked at the sky before going to bed, concerned about rain on the farmer's crops. If they had a good year, they would be able to pay all their credit.
The younger Hardee was born in a house where the present IGA store is located today, 3970 Main. He was a "store baby," always around while his parents worked in their small wood frame store building beside where Bertie's fashions is located today. In 1945 the house was torn down and the present store building (which has since been expanded) was constructed on the property.
He attended Loris schools and studied accounting for a year at Draughns Business School in Columbia. He came back and began working with his father in 1955 at The Loris Cash Store, in clothing and general merchandise. Seeing the need for a modern supermarket and competitive prices, the Hardees remodeled, added new equipment and affiliated with IGA (Independent Grocer's Alliance) in 1964. The new store had ample parking frontage on Main Street with added paved parking at the rear. IGA used the rear of the adjoining building (formerly the post office) for storage. The front of the building was occupied by Santee Cooper.
At that time IGA was (and still is) the world's largest independent food organization of more than 5,000 leading merchants located throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Loris store was the fifth IGA to be located in Horry County.
A family business, Loris IGA was run by Roy Lee Hardee, Sr. and sons Roy Lee Jr. and Donald, who were involved with the buying, shelf stocking and general operation. Mrs. Hardee, Sr., operating one of the checkout counters, was assisted by Maxine Bellamy and Louise Graham. William (Dott) Bellamy, was market manager.
A formal dedication of the store was given by the Rev. Lester Branham, pastor of the First Baptist Church, with Ken (Sharecropper) Lovell officiating. This was followed by three days of Grand Opening. Fifty bags of food, a 12 cubic foot Philco Deluxe refrigerator and host, of other prizes were given away. "Carmie" the clown was an attraction for the children.
1970 was a special year for the Hardees. They bought the Farmer's Tobacco warehouse on adjoining land and built a spacious parking lot. In November of that year, Hardee, Sr. celebrated his 50th year working in the grocery business in Loris along with the Grand Opening of the newly remodeled IGA building.
Roy Lee Hardee, Sr. began as a clerk with J. M. Mishoe and Co. in 1920. The store changed hands several times during the next decade, with a number of Loris families being involved. After working as a clerk and then in partnership, Hardee, Sr. became owner in 1931.
For a continuing 66 years, Roy Hardee, Sr. and sons have operated a successful grocery business, always looking to the future and opportunities for expanding to meet the growing needs of the community. Hardee, Sr., has retired and the Hardee brothers are still partners in the business, although Donald is now vice chairman and regional administrator of Southern National Bank.
The elder Hardee remembers the difference in prices in the 30's compared to today. He used to sell a 5 pound bag of sugar for 25 cents, four pounds of lard for 25 cents and drinks, 5 cents. All cuts of beef were 25 cents a pound. His business grew from one to thirteen salaried employees.
Roy Lee Hardee, Jr. has seen Loris change. He said he once knew everyone he met on the street, now people are moving into Loris and there are many new faces. "Loris would be like a lot of other little towns if it had not been for progressive merchants," he said. "They formed a local Industrial Development Board, invested money and in return, received more trade."
The modern IGA store employs nineteen people. Hardee is continually applying new ideas and business practices that will be of benefit to the customers. Roy Lee, Jr. and his wife, Eliza Lucille Brown Hardee, have two children, Roy Stephen and Abby Gail. Stephen is now assistant manager of the store and Abby is secretary and cashier.
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