Change is inevitable. We don’t always like it, and we seldom find it easy to adapt to, but many times with change it comes roaring into our lives, upending our routines and forcing us to venture outside of our comfort zones.
Last Friday, one of those changes happened in our community, with word that Paramount Foods, owner of the long-standing and locally-owned community grocery store chain Piggly Wiggly, was selling its three Clinton locations, along with the store in Roseboro.
The sell, expected to be final in early April, will mark the end of an amazing era for the Lindsays, who, over five decades, became grocery store royalty in Sampson County, bringing down-home service, honest dealings and a wealth of homespun humor and fun with them as they turned one store into two and then three and finally more across our area.
It started with brothers Jesse and Elmon Lindsay, who back in the early 1960s were working for Colonial Stores when they met local businessman Billy Ray Jordan. They, along with then partner Moses King, made local grocery store history, opening the Jordan Shopping Center store and eventually parlaying that into the chain that has been the grocer of choice for much of Sampson for over 50 years.
Piggly Wiggly, as the elder Lindsays wanted, became a part of our family; Jesse and Elmon treated each customer like a long-lost friend, taking time to ask about their health, their children and their future plans as they meandered down the grocery aisles. They’d often thank you, themselves, for shopping with them and they always sought your thoughts on their offerings and how they could make the shopping experience better for each customer. And they acted to improve based on those opinions.
It was their personal touch that kept people coming back week after week to shop with the Lindsays, and it was their personalities that propelled them into the community spotlight where they gave back by way of public service — Elmon through his work with civic organizations, Jesse by way of public duties on any number of governmental boards.
Their deaths in 2012 and 2014 left a void in both the community and the stores they loved, but their memories never faded.
Jesse’s son Michael and Elmon’s son Marshal have carried on the Piggly Wiggly legacy since their deaths, upholding the same customer service their fathers insisted upon day after day, moving the stores with the times and reacting to the changes that often come with any business, even those which have been around for decades.
One of those changes came last week, when the decision was reached to sell the stores. It was an unexpected announcement that has left many of “the Pig’s” long-time customers shocked and unprepared for a change that is now inevitable.
But though change is hard, it doesn’t have to be bad. While the Lindsays won’t be tied to the stores they have owned for so many years, Promise Foods and Carlie C’s, which takes the reins in the next few weeks, will bring the same kind of service and down-home experience we have come to expect from our Piggly Wigglys. In fact, if franchise approval is given, even the familiar pig face and name may stick around.
Carlie C’s is our good neighbor to the north in Dunn, with other stores all around us, and we know the McLamb family is just as hard-working, just as community-oriented and just as customer-service minded as the Lindsays have always been.
So while the business will change hands, the legacy of service and community-based operation will remain.
We welcome the McLamb family to our Sampson community, even as we tip our hat to the Lindsays for giving us decade after decade of service, fun and, of course, groceries.
Jesse Lindsay was always fond of telling us here at The Sampson Independent that change was opportunity. And that’s how we hope everyone will view the end of one grocery store era and the beginning of another.