Sixteen years ago, a discount outlet that carried everything from spaghetti sauce to the kitchen sink opened near the west end of Athens on Hwy 72. It’s easy to spot, because the three story Country Boy statue stands guard near the entrance, and serves as a landmark for all to see. Country Lane, or C&L Discount, is housed in what had once been the fabrication site for a trailer manufacturing plant, and the gamble-roofed façade was added once it became a discount store. Craig Robinson manages the place, Nina Routh works mostly in the front, Christie Miller and Jerry Roberts work largely in the back, and the whole crew makes you feel like you are a neighbor shopping in an old time mercantile. Wanda Bogus rounds out the team, and everyone makes sure that C&L offers great customer service.
“We started out as a small country store, and have kept growing ever since,” Craig told me. C&L carries overstock of all kinds, dented cans, buyouts, close dated products, and non-perishable groceries. Then they expanded into building supplies. There is a trade secret to all of this, I was told by Craig, and of course, he didn’t divulge. He did tell me one thing: “We can get a whole truckload of toilet paper,” he said, and “because of volume we can pass along the savings.” One of the things that makes C&L so much fun is that you never know what will have been unpacked from the truckload. “We have had kosher products from NY,” said Craig, “and caviar.” He also went on to tell me that they have had all kinds of flavors of chili con carne from Texas, and Cuban food from Miami. There is a great selection of spices, as well as genuine Perrier, plain and flavored. “We have been called a ‘Little Sam’s Club’, and if you don’t buy it when you see it, chances are, it won’t be there when you come back,” said Craig.
One of their newest features is what they call “the Rack.” It is a centrally located set of shelves where you can buy items by the case, and then receive a 15% discount. They are marked by green stickers, and have been very popular. I asked Craig what had been C&L’s “surprise success” for this season, and he said, “Make up. We have the best prices on make up in town.” Other best sellers include Pepperidge Farm bread for 99 cents a loaf, Hormel chili, Spam with jalapenos, Bush’s baked beans, and canned tomatoes. They also have a good selection of hardback and paperback books at deeply discounted prices. Additionally, C&L carries luggage, paint, and even a couple of tents.
Earlier this spring, C&L added furniture to their inventory. There are bedroom suites, tables and chairs, end tables, book cases, and more. Most of the furniture is either by Acme or Whalen. In addition, there are couches, loveseats, and recliners. There are unique items, such as a bedroom suite for a child that looks like a boat. The bow of the boat serves as a storage space for toys. They also carry kitchen cabinets, and some brand new side by side refrigerators. There are beautiful bathroom vanities, and nearly no end of flooring options. There is ceramic tile, and the tiles range in price from 59 cents to $2.99. There is also first quality laminate flooring in 19 colors, and those prices are 79 cents to $1.99 per square foot. Vinyl comes in rolls; 8’, 12’, 13’2”, and 16’4” in width. C &L carries brand name carpeting with a large selection of colors and styles. The prices start at 55 cents per sq. ft. Craig says that flooring is a growing part of the business.
Lastly, one of the things Craig and C&L are most pleased to provide is roofing supplies. “We have the absolute best prices on roofing, and it’s made by Owens Corning,” he said. Roofing is the “bread and butter” of all the types of items carried by C &L. They also have everything from basic 3 tab 20 year to lifetime architectural shingles, and they do deliver. Additionally, they have a list of trustworthy installers. He emphasized the fact that none of the installers gets a fee from C&L, and it’s up to the client to call the installers. For do it yourselfers, C & L carries all of the supplies needed to do the job right.
If you are looking for a friendly place to shop, so you can find the best bargains around, come to Country Lane, or C&L Discount, for short. And, you’ll find yourself coming back again and again.
Country Lane Discount
16800 US Hwy 72
Athens, AL 35611
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8-5, Sat, 8-4
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By: Ali Elizabeth Turner