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Keeping Sundays sacred

By Staff
Kim West
Franklin County Times
RED BAY – Grocery stores are known for their weekly specials and customer service.
The Piggly Wiggly in Red Bay features special prices in weekly advertisements and loads groceries for their customers. But the family-owned store, founded by Homer Vinson in 1963, is also known for closing its doors to Sunday business.
"We've been doing that ever since the store opened because it was a belief of my grandfather's to honor the Lord's day," said store co-manager Jason Vinson, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the Red Bay store. "The policy also lets our employees have every Sunday off. For the most part, people like that we're closed on Sundays."
As a franchisee of Piggly Wiggly, the Vinsons pay for the use of the brand name, but they decide their own company policies and what products to carry.
"Each Piggly Wiggly store is a franchise and family-owned," said Vinson, who graduated from the University of North Alabama with a business degree in computer information systems in 2003. "We pay for the name, but we decide what we carry in the store and the hours that we're open."
Homer Vinson passed away in 1996, the same year the Vinsons opened their third Piggly Wiggly franchise in Iuka, Miss. The family also owns a second store in Belmont, Miss., which was founded in 1974.
The family business is now co-owned by Homer Vinson's son, Glen Vinson, and son-in-law, Greg Pharr. Red Bay mayor Jeff Reid manages the Red Bay store, which originally occupied a building in downtown Red Bay, but moved to its present location in 1976.
Vinson said that his store prefers to sell locally produced products, along with a large selection of brand-name items.
"We buy from local farmers. There's about 10 different people who bring in produce, such as tomatoes, greens, watermelons and pumpkins," Vinson said. "We have honey made from Brother Larry Hill, who is the pastor of Red Bay's First Baptist Church. We also have sorghum syrup that's home-grown."
The store still attracts a loyal base of customers, despite stiff competition and the challenges of being a small business.
"We're limited in space, and we don't get new items as fast as corporations do," Vinson said. "There's new competition popping up everywhere – in the early 90s, there was just Family Dollar, Dollar General and our store in Red Bay. But now there's a Fred's, another grocery store and convenience stores.
"But I guess it comes back to customer service and relationships. We still take out groceries – we bag and load them, and some stores don't even touch the groceries," Vinson said.
Piggly Wiggly, located at 141 Pike Avenue in Red Bay, is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, call 356-4406.