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For almost 50 years, Country Fair convenience stores have been an integral part of local neighborhoods in the Erie area. It's the place where people go to fill up their car with gas, grab a drink, sandwich, or purchase last-minute staple items such as bread and milk.

Milk was in fact the whole reason Country Fair stores first came into being. When founder Ray McGarvey inherited the family dairy business, Meadow Brook Dairy, from his father and uncle in 1959, milk was still a commodity that was home-delivered to customers' doors. As the 1960s progressed, McGarvey realized that home delivery would eventually become obsolete, so he created a controlled outlet for his milk supply in 1966 at a building on West 8th and Maryland Streets in Erie. That building became the first Country Fair general store, which is still in existence today.

Now, the distinctive red barn exterior of Country Fair convenience stores can be found at over 70 different locations in northwestern Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, and they offer much more than just milk. Country Fair stores are full-service, one-stop outlets where customers can fill up their gas tanks; buy groceries, tobacco products, and lottery tickets; or even bring home a quick meal from the in-store deli.

“Ray was the key to Country Fair's great growth because he had the vision to realize that the business had to evolve in order to compete with the big supermarkets,” says Paul Rankin, Vice-President of Retail Marketing with United Refining Company, which has owned the Country Fair line since 2001. “In the 1980s, he started offering gasoline, which now makes up half of our business. We continue to look for new ways to grow the business while remaining true to Ray's original philosophy of total customer service.”

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