The Fairmont Tobacco Market did not begin as a robust, dynamic market. It began with one wooden warehouse on Center Street that sold 500,000 pounds of leaf in 1899, its first season. A. L. Jones built the warehouse and recruited experienced tobacco men to come here to operate it.
From available accounts Mr. Wade, who ran it the first year, turned down the opportunity to manage it in 1900. Jones turned to J. D. Kyle of Greenville, TN, an experienced tobacconist and, in 1902, brought in T. F. Reeves & Co. to operate it in conjunction with Kyle.
Contemporaneous accounts indicate that in 1903 there was a separate entity named Planters Warehouse that was located in a separate facility. T. F. Reeves & Co. ran Planters while Kyle continued to operate Ashpole Tobacco Warehouse.
The market grew slowly at first. Farmers were reluctant to make tobacco their primary crop. Cotton was the "money" crop for the majority, but gradually more tobacco began to be grown. Tobacconists told farmers that this area of Robeson County was "perfect" tobacco-growing land. The farmers who grew tobacco saw that they were earning more than their counterparts north of them and many of them began to grow tobacco.
Kyle and Reeves were experienced tobacconists who were able to bring more recognition to the area with the tobacco company buyers. They proclaimed the superiority of the area for growing the golden leaf and invited buyers to come to our market and see for themselves. In 1912, Robeson County Warehouse opened and was run by E. J. Davis & Sons, who had relocated from the Fair Bluff market.
Davis was experienced as well and had industry-wide prestige. Davis began when the industry was in its infancy and knew practically everyone of importance in the business. His presence as an operator let buyers know that he considered the Fairmont market to be the premier place to be. Subsequently, more experienced buyers were assigned here. As volume grew more sets of buyers were added and the market grew even more and became recognized as the best market in the belt.