Shoppers from Bolivia to Australia have visited, heard of or read about Brunswick County’s gas station with the unique sign, and locals have come to depend on it as a convenient stop between Southport and Supply on N.C. 211.
But after Saturday, Midway Trading Post, known unofficially but famously as “Worms and Coffee” for its glowing neon window sign and well-traveled merchandise, will be closed for good.
Midway owner Carol Richards said the state made her an offer on her store, and with business slowing down, it came at the right time.
Richards and her husband Mike, who passed away last year, bought Midway Trading Post in 1993 after finding their new home in Southport.
Mike Richards was working in Research Triangle Park during a time of mass layoffs, and rather than waiting around to hear who would be next, the couple decided to find a place where they would ultimately retire.
“We were 49 years old, and we wanted to live at the coast. We loved Southport,” Richards said.
Before retiring, the couple wanted to operate a business in the community they loved, but they didn’t want something with a huge commitment such as a restaurant or hotel, she recalled.
They found Midway Trading Post through a local real estate agent.
“We just bought this old store, and we thought it looked cool,” Richards said. “We thought, we can make things out of it.
“My husband loved it. I’m just sorry he’s not able to reap the rewards and enjoy retirement.”
Midway has three employees, and they have known for the past year that the store was closing, giving them time to adjust and find other work.
Richards is ready for the next phase of her life but remains grateful and pleased with the customers and “fans” the store has attracted over the years.
“We’ve been all over the world with our T-shirts and hats and everything,” she said, noting that Mike’s efforts to market the shop “Worms and Coffee” via signs and merchandise paid off, resulting in state, national and international recognition.
Magazines such as Our State wrote features on the tiny store, and locals and tourists sent the merchandise to their friends and families around the world.
“Australia is the farthest I think we’ve gone,” Richards said.
Not bad for a little gas, coffee and convenience store popular with local outdoorsmen that stayed “pretty much the same all these years,” according to long-time employee Stephanie Spencer, who worked at the store even before the Richards family purchased it.
An auction of store property is scheduled August 20 at Midway, but this Saturday is the last day locals and visitors can buy their “worms and coffee” and sit in the outdoor chairs for a chat with friends.