BY LISA WARREN
Folks began lining up early at the Greeneville Walmart store on Tuesday morning.
This time, though, they weren't there to bag a door-buster bargain at a colossal store sale, but rather to seek autographs from The Band Perry.
The sibling trio weren't scheduled to begin signing copies of their CDs until 5 p.m. -- but that didn't matter to thousands of their hometown fans who patiently waited for hours in line throughout the aisles of Walmart.
When told that some fans arrived as early as 7 a.m., lead singer Kimberly Perry seemed shocked but extremely flattered.
"Kudos to the fans -- because I know I was not up at 7 o'clock this morning!" she said with amazement. "We so appreciate that dedication and support. It's amazing to be home, and this is just like a cherry on top of it!"
The Perry stayed until all autographs were signed, at about 7 p.m., according to Walmart shift manager Carey Lane.
Kimberly Perry said that coming home for her and her brothers is always a welcome relief from the constant road travel for the country music stars.
"We always say that going home to Greeneville is like going home for vacation," Kimberly said. "We don't go to the beach, we come to the mountains!
"We are big believers in small towns. We three are perfect examples of how big things can happen to really small people," Kimberly said.
"Everywhere we go all across the country, we talk about Greeneville. It is this sort of community that holds the fabric of everything together. We just love it. We absolutely love here!" she said.
Because the band travels so frequently -- often to a different city each day -- Neil Perry said, it is always a welcome relief to return home to Greeneville, where everything is familiar and friendly.
"We can just chill out here," he said.
On Tuesday evening, though, the band members took time from their "vacation" to give back to some of their most ardent fans and supporters by signing copies of their CDs at the Greeneville Walmart, which has been a major seller of their two albums.
The local store won the autograph session in a competition within the entire Walmart company by selling more of the CDs in a specified time period than any other Walmart store.
"It's going to be fun to hang out today. It will be like having a giant family reunion here at Walmart!" Kimberly said.
While Tuesday was a scheduled autograph session, Kimberly said that she and her brothers often get to have many impromtu interactions with their hometown fans when they come home to Greeneville from the road.
Many times, those hometown fan interactions come when the group members are enjoying their favorite dishes at the Monterrey Mexican Restaurant.
For the Perrys, meeting their fans is something that they say they always enjoy and cherish.
Because of their musical success, the siblings have been able to meet many of their own musical heroes, and they say that they are excited and humbled when they are approached by fans who feel the same way about them.
"When we meet our young fans out in town, it's very important to us that we don't let them down -- both with our lifestyles and how we greet them," Kimberly said.
"We are very honored that people listen to our music, and can sing it back to us!" she added.
The band members said they are looking forward to an event later this month because it will give their hometown fans a chance to travel just down the road a bit for a Band Perry concert
"August 29, we are going to be at Smokies Stadium," Reid said. "So it's going to be really close to a hometown show!"
In November, the Perrys will be traveling to Europe for a 20-city tour.
"I never dreamed that our music would take us across the ocean!" Neil said. "We will actually be able to sing 'Postcard from Paris' in Paris, France!"