Friday, January 29, 2016

TOP STORY >> Edwards buying Knight’s in Jacksonville

GES, Inc., owner and operator of Edwards Food Giant and Edwards Cash Saver supermarkets, will open a new Edwards Cash Saver at the Knight’s location at 315 S. James St. in Jacksonville.

This will be the seventh store in central Arkansas for the Edwards family since entering the market in 2009.

Steve Edwards, owner and president, said that the company had been looking to expand in the Jacksonville area for a few years and was able to negotiate with the Knight family to buy their supermarket as well as the Jackson Square Shopping Center. Knight’s will continue to operate in Cabot and Beebe.

Edwards said a big attraction for the company was the recent announcement of the new school complex being built and the commitment of the Jacksonville residents to invest back into their community. He also spoke about the recent news of the SIG Sauer ammo-manufacturing facility and their investment in the city.

The Jackson Square Shopping Center will get a facelift, and all parking lot lighting will be improved to guarantee a comfortable and safe shopping experience. The remodeled interior of the supermarket will feature new equipment, lighting and décor.

When the transaction is completed, the current Knight’s supermarket will be closed for a few weeks during a complete remodel.

Because this is a Cost Plus supermarket similar to the Edwards Cash Saver store in North Little Rock, all goods will be available at the store’s cost plus 10 percent at checkout.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said Edwards coming to Jacksonville is another sign of economic growth in the city. “This is a win for all of us. To have someone like Steve Edwards and their reputation moving into Jacksonville raises the game,” the mayor said.

“This is an example of what schools can do for a community,” Fletcher said, referring to plans to spend $80 million on new schools if voters pass a millage increase Feb. 9. “Education drives economic development that translates into more jobs.”

The mayor said remodeling the store and the shopping center “will have a ripple effect on the whole area.”

The Edwards stores have become known as “The Meat People” and the Jacksonville store will include a large meat department. It will include the finest meats at great prices, featuring certified Angus beef, Edwards said.

Although the store will not include a full service deli, it will have a large smoker making hot smoked ribs, chickens, pork, brisket and other meat items available daily. The store will also have a large fresh produce department along with a full selection of name brand and private label grocery items.

Edwards said all company associates are excited about the Jacksonville location and look forward to opening the store.

GES, Inc., an Arkansas corporation, was formed in 1968 to consolidate a group of supermarkets. The corporation now owns eight supermarkets since moving into the Little Rock market in 2009.

Oral and Steve Edwards, who have more than 80 years of grocery experience between them, own GES, Inc. Along with Gary Proffitt, vice president of operations, the Edwards family also owns Tobacco Warehouse, LLC, which operates convenience stores.

The supermarkets and convenience stores are all in Arkansas and operate under the Edwards Food Giant and FG Express banners. “We continue to improve our stores and add new departments in order to protect our markets and better serve our customers,” Steve Edwards said.

The company traces its roots back to 1959, when founder Oral Edwards started his career in the grocery business as an assistant manager in Millington, Tenn. He next moved to Kennett, Mo., in 1961 as a store manager.

In 1962, he became part owner in a new store. He loaded up his family for the third and final time and moved to Forrest City in east Arkansas, where a new Liberty Supermarket opened there in 1962.

By today’s standards, it was a small store, but it was huge for that time. Forrest City became home for Oral and Christine Edwards and their children, Steve and Susan.

The business grew from there as locations opened in Harrisburg, Marianna, McCrory, Augusta and at four Little Rock sites.