UNA COMMUNITY, Miss. (WTVA) -- Barry Smitherman keeps a close eye on the competition any way he can.
He worries about the future of mom and pop stores in this country.
"They're fading away and once they're gone, they're probably not gonna come back," said Smitherman.
Five years ago, he took over a grocery store. It's been in business for 45 years.
The closest major competitor is approximately 17 miles from the Una Community in just about every direction. That keeps many of his customers coming back for more.
"It's good to have one in the neighborhood. Things you need you can always come here and get it," said customer Johnny Brown.
It's becoming more difficult to keep the items customers want in stock.
Wholesalers demand big buys weekly and that's hard for a small business like this one.
Smitherman has a plan.
"One thing is to try to team up with another store and buy from a larger wholesaler and piggy back off one another," added Smitherman.
While he works out that plan, there are other businesses with similar challenges.
Several miles away we find a locally-owned convenience store. They, too have a location that pleases their customers.
J.E. Pumphrey likes to stay close to home.
"I love my country. That's where I was born and that's where I was raised," said Pumphrey.
The McCondy Community store is right down the road which makes it easier for he and others.
"It's convenient. I eat here every day-breakfast and lunch also," said customer Richie Gunter.
That hot meal helps-especially when there is significantly more competition a 15 minute drive away.
Back at Knox Grocery, Smitherman continues to come up with ways to keep the foot traffic moving in his direction.
"Seems like you can't hold onto it, but I can't give up. My intention is to keep it here and with help from the local community, we're gonna do that," added Smitherman.