By Ryan Squibb and James McNary
At the April 23 meeting of the Mt. Vernon Board of Aldermen, the board gave City Administrator Max Springer and Mayor Dave Eden the green light to recruit Harps supermarket chain, based out of Springdale, Ark. The goal was to entice the chain to bring their store to Mt. Vernon.
At the time, the proposal was said to be a few weeks away. Currently, the meeting is still a go, but has yet to happen due to scheduling.
Eden spoke candidly about the slow-moving proposal.
“The goal of the whole conversation was to find some way to increase our tax base. It’s not just Harps we’re talking to,” Eden said. “We’re happy to talk with anybody and it doesn’t just have to be grocery stores. We’re interested in expanding our tax base, but I don’t think the government should be in the business of making competition for businesses. It wasn’t our intent to imply that we were going to buy property and build a grocery store. It should be the intent of the private sector to do that, not the government. We should make the environment attractive for business.”
Eden insists the meeting will still happen, but no timeline has been set.
Muncy’s buys another store
Fresh from reopening their store in Lockwood after it was damaged by a tornado, David and Lesha Muncy are taking on another challenge: expanding into Sarcoxie with the purchase of the Country Fresh Market.
The Sarcoxie store, known as Cadwell’s for many years, officially became the second Muncy’s Supermarket July 30. The staff wore the Muncy’s logo on their shirts, the cash registers displayed Muncy’s on their screens, and the exterior signs were changed that afternoon.
The Muncys had been considering purchasing another store when the owners of Country Fresh approached them about buying their Sarcoxie location earlier this year; having other stores in Shell Knob, Springfield and Crane, the Sarcoxie store no longer fit into their trade area.
“After coming down and looking at it, we decided it was something we wanted to do,” said David. “It was what we were looking for.”
Muncy said the Sarcoxie store has about the same number of employees as their Lockwood store, but is a little bigger in size.
David said there will be a few changes made to the store. The hot deli has been taken out, with plans to replace it with a cold deli. Some painting will be done, ceiling tiles replaced and old shelving changed out. And, using coolers that had been sitting empty since being installed months ago, the store has begun selling beer, wine and liquor.
The store’s hours have also been changed, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday- Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.
David said he plans to be more competitive on pricing, and to increase the selection of “Five-for-$25” meats.
The process of acquiring the Sarcoxie store was already in progress at the time the Lockwood store was hit by the tornado, which David said made that situation even more stressful.
Even so, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of later adding another small-town store to what has now become a chain.
“When we started, we had a goal in mind of the number of stores we would like to have by a certain point in our lives,” said David. “I prefer the smaller town atmosphere, we were both born and raised in Lockwood and never left.”
David said he has worked in the grocery business 24 years this month, starting as a carry-out at the Lockwood store and working his way up. He and Lesha have owned the Lockwood store for about two years.