Tommie Choplin’s Store


There was a time, not terribly long ago, when the area around Reynolda Manor Shopping Center on Reynolda Road was outside of the city limits of Winston-Salem.  The area was largely rural, with a few businesses scattered about.

Reynolda Manor opened in 1963, located on a large piece of land that was formerly a horse pasture.

Reynolda Manor Shopping Center

Before Reynolda Manor was built, Fairlawn Drive did not extend to Reynolda Road, so one could walk from Town & Country Estates (or even farther down Reynolda Road), to Polo Road, and not cross a street with oncoming traffic.  This made walking to Crystal Lake very handy for many people during the summertime, especially for children and parents with children, who had no other means of transportation.

Tommie Leon Choplin owned and operated Choplin’s Grocery and Shell Station at 2907 Reynolda Road, near Old Town Drive.  Tommie and his family lived at the same location.  Tommie was married to Marie Thacker Choplin.  The top photo shows the grocery store/gasoline station, and Tommie is manning the gas pump.  The price of gasoline at this time was 29-cents, and included personal service!

The store had a wooden floor and carried a good supply of grocery staples.  There was a meat department in the back of the store.  School children catching the bus to Old Town School waited in the mornings at Choplin’s store.  It was a warm and dry place to wait, and the well-stocked candy counter often tempted students to part with their lunch money.

The photo shows a soft drink machine in front of the store, and there are cartons of empty glass bottles lined up in front of the store.  Empty bottles could be returned for cash refunds, so it was profitable to return them to the store.  In fact, any glass soft drink bottles could be cashed in for refunds, so youngsters would ride their bikes and search for bottles thrown away, to collect the refunds.  The advent of plastic bottles ended that enterprise.

Tommie operated the store for about 23 years.  It was replaced with a larger gasoline station, and in 2015 a larger station with a convenience store is located there.

McDonald’s is across the street, and a new Harris Teeter Grocery Store opened recently nearby.  Reynolda Manor Shopping Center has continued to grow and add new stores, as older businesses have closed.

The area is definitely no longer rural.  Reynolda Road is no longer a two lane road.  In fact, a stop light was installed to help traffic move onto Reynolda Road from Old Town Drive, and to turn into McDonald’s.  Now, what would Tommie say about that?

Black and white photographs courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.


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7 Responses

  1. Jeanette Choplin Allen says:

    I was so excited to see this on the Web, and it brought tears to my eyes. I am Tommie & Marie’s daughter and spent my childhood in this store. So many good memories, and my Dad was a terrific father. He worked so hard and very long hours, but enjoyed all his customers very much. Thank you so much for this article.

    • Jeanette, I lived on Radford Street and grew up going to your father’s store. I even walked up the street and waited for the bus to go to Old Town School in the store. I’m sure I spent a little lunch money on candy in the store. We would find soft drink bottles and turn them in for refunds at the store. I also have good memories of your parents and was so pleased when I found this photograph. Thank you for your comments. Do you have photos of the store’s interior? I can see it in my mind, but don’t have photos. Thanks again for writing.

  2. Jeanette Choplin Allen says:

    Molly, Thanks so much for posting this article. Just curious, where did you find the picture? And sadly, no I don’t have a picture of the inside. In fact, we have very few pictures. I wish I could find one that showed the car service garage that was to the left of the store, and the whole parking lot that showed the pay telephone booth. Guess our family didn’t take many pictures then, and now, we would have cherished them.

    • Jeannette, I believe this photo was part of the Quality Oil image group that I was given permission to scan. It was not dated. I have an aerial of the Reynolda Manor area, but I don’t know if the store can be seen in the aerial, or if it existed at that time. I’ll be glad to check and will get back with you. It will take a while to locate it, but I will let you know.

  3. Jeanette Choplin Allen says:

    Yes, I would like very much for you to check on the aerial view, and I thank you again for this wonderful story.

  4. Dave Jarvis says:

    Thanks, Mollie. I remember this store and the Choplins with great fondness. I grew up on Pinewood Drive, about a mile to the north. My mom and I would sometimes walk to Choplin’s store in the 1950s, coming up Old Town Drive from Bethabara Road. I think that I first asked for an allowance so that I could buy wax teeth at this store!

    • Thanks for your comment, Dave. I waited for the bus to Old Town School in this store, so I was able to peruse the candy shelves very closely. Also, before Reynolda Manor Shopping Center was built, this was our go-to store for milk, bread, etc.

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