When you shop high and low, You-Can-Save

By Paul Viau | Jan 08, 2013
Photo by: Paul Viau BARGAINS IN STORE — Jerry Evans, owner of Clyde's U-Can-Save, owes his own 'Smart Start' to Kellogg's.

I’ve got to admit it: as the popular country song goes, “I was raised on an asphalt farm, never heard a rooster crow.” In other words, I’m not you’re typical country boy — far from it. But I’m still very much a "hunter gatherer."

As a young city boy, I used to ride off, not in a pickup truck, but on my bicycle —rooting around the backs of stores looking for treasure. And I found it.

At 6 years old, I bagged my first buck — an old, tired, mounted deer, discarded by the local barber shop. And I’ll never forget my mother’s look as I presented her with my moth-eaten trophy.

In my 20s and 30s, I rooted around antique stores, coming back with not-so-city-slicker things, like a longhorn steer skull.

These days, I like to hunt wearable and consumable treasures — Dockers-brand pants for my golf course gig, wannabe biker shirts, and more than a Food Lion’s share of our household groceries.

Right now our pantry is "overstocked" with coffee, specialty sauces and an assortment of gourmet treasures — kalamata olives, grilled eggplant, Bob’s Red Mill mixes, and even a jar of Baconaise — which really puts the "B" in a BLT.

My favorite places to pick food items are, Big Lots, GO-Grocery and flea markets. But I recently discovered a tiny mom-and-pop grocery outlet in Clyde with a name that says it all: U-Can-Save. Boy, howdy, you can save!

Owner Jerry Evans has spent his whole life in the food business. Growing up on St. George Island in Maryland, he worked in the family seafood restaurant, where in his own words he was “cheap labor.” He would go out early in the morning and catch the fish, come home and clean them, help out in the kitchen, then clean up to at the end of the day. It was hard work, but it toughened him for a career in the food business. As a grown-up, Evans worked as a food vendor selling to grocery chains, where he made a lot of connections. He owned a steakhouse for a short time. Finally, he settled in with a food route distributing Murry's cookies.

Unfortunately, Kellogg’s bought the brand, and Jerry was soon out of a job.

Lucky for us, his wife had roots in WNC, so the Evans family moved to Clyde.

After working in construction (back when there was construction) Jerry used his food knowledge, experience, and connections to open You-Can-Save in January of 2012. He just celebrated his first successful year in business.

I love the store, because (1) it’s conveniently located on my trade routes, at the corner of Charles Street and U.S. Highway 19/23 (Carolina Blvd.) in Clyde, (2) he stocks a wide variety of health-oriented and ethnic foods — from gluten-free and vegan to Indian and Thai, and (3) as Jerry proudly says, “It’s good food at a good price … all name brand.”

You-Can-Save stocks everything (literally) from soup to nuts. The items vary on a day-to-day basis, but I like that. It makes food shopping more of an adventure.

A couple weeks ago, after I struck out trying to find jasmine rice at every Waynesville supermarket, I stopped by to see what Jerry had in stock. You guessed it — jasmine rice.

Sure, I was just lucky, but mission accomplished.

Jerry has a handful of friends helping him out with the business — covering the register when he is out procuring more food bargains.

I asked him where he gets things like Baconaise, Soffrito and Indian Papadum.

He answered, “It’s top secret.”

I feel the same about telling everyone about U-Can-Save — up until now, it’s been like my own, little secret store.

But I’m confident Jerry can handle a few more customers, and my own pantry is already greatly over-stocked. In fact, my wife is starting to think I’m a "prepper."

So visit U-Can-Save at 314 Charles St. in Clyde. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closed Sunday. Tell them Paul sent you, and happy bargain hunting.