Brings 100 Jobs,
In Annual Sales
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
A once-vacant eyesore has undergone a transformation on the East Andrew Johnson Highway and, as a result, Greeneville's third Food City supermarket is officially open today.
Company executives, local officials, news media representatives and hundreds of guests filled the large parking lot of the remodeled former Walmart building off U.S. 11E on Tuesday evening for a preview and ribbon-cutting ceremony held in connection with a Greene County Partnership Business After-Hours event.
The store, at 2755 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy., has already added more than 100 jobs, according to K-VA-T President and CEO Steve Smith. K-VA-T is the parent corporation of Food City stores.
Moreover, Partnership Chairman and CEO Tom Ferguson noted that the facility will bring an estimated $20 million in annual retail sales.
With more features and amenities than could feasibly all be named, this newest facility gleamed like new construction and boasted immaculately -- and fully -- stocked shelves.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Guests spent more than an hour browsing the 49,000-square-foot store on Tuesday, sampling various items in many of the departments.
The deli/bakery became a common gathering place for coffee, pastries, hot-bar items and music by the band Nostalgia.
A large sign above the area declares it "Café Greeneville."
A new floral boutique offering a florist on staff seven days a week softened the scene nearby as business people gathered in small groups throughout the large produce section.
At the front of the store, an express lane joins seven traditional checkout lanes and four self-checkout lanes.
Lining the exterior walls and all through the frozen section were large freezers boasting glass doors to keep products normally found in open coolers fresher.
Jesse Lewis, senior vice president and chief operations officer for K-VA-T, explained that this is one feature of the store's innovative energy savings concepts.
Other such features, he said, include LED lighting and motion sensors.
The store also offers a Food City Pharmacy, complete with a drive-thru, and a five-pump Food City Gas 'N' Go station.
"I think they'll like what they see," Lewis said.
PRESIDENT AND CEO
Lewis joked that the answer to the frequently-asked question -- "Why a third store in Greeneville?" -- is simply that K-VA-T President and CEO Steve Smith saw the empty building and wanted it.
"Greeneville was the original home of Food City many years ago," Smith said in explanation of adding a third store.
"We developed a special relationship [...] with the people in Greeneville," he said during an interview after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"[There has been] so much support from our customer-base in Greeneville over the years."
He went on to say that the company also wanted a presence on the frequently-traveled U.S. 11E Bypass, as well as on the east side of the county.
A FAMILY COMPANY
During the ceremony, Smith emphasized the company's owner-operator stockholders, that it is a family company, and that it is a local company.
Not only has the store brought more than 100 new jobs, but he said that it has also prompted the transfer of about 35 administrative positions from other areas within the company.
"It is a beautiful store, and it has a lot of amenities in it. But no matter how nice these amenities are, it's the people that make a store.
"That's what I'm so proud of," Smith said.
These sentiments were echoed in the official remarks prior to the ribbon-cutting.
"We're awfully excited to put a third store here in Greeneville," said District Manager Rick Bishop.
"Food City has a rich history here."
Guests received a welcome from longtime former K-VA-T executive Bob Southerland, of Greeneville, now retired, who introduced Ferguson.
"This project came together because of the partnership that we have, both with the city and the county, and also because of a guy who's not here tonight, Steve Johnson, the developer of this fine project," Ferguson said.
The project represents the first time Greene County has entered into an agreement using Tax Increment Financing, which Ferguson described as a "nice tax incentive" to do the project.
(Through Tax Increment Financing, the Greeneville and Greene County governments will fund this portion of the development project by reallocating for 15 years the increase in property tax revenue that the governments will receive because the site has been developed.
(The reallocated additional tax revenue for those 15 years will go toward paying for the expense of the improvements at the site.)
"This is a momentous occassion," said Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels.
He thanked Smith and Johnson for taking "a piece of property and making it come alive again."
County Mayor Alan Broyles agreed, saying he is proud of the accomplishment.
"It makes me proud to have a 21-member board of county commissioners who hold as their top priority business and industry," Broyles said.
"We have brought this building back to life."
Department leaders joined the company executives for the ribbon-cutting, which was performed by the new store manager, Bland Justis.
At the close of the ceremony, guests heard a special patriotic performance by the Greeneville High School Advanced Show Choir and together recited the Pledge of Allegiance as a large U.S. flag was raised by members of American Legion Post 64.
Headquartered in Abingdon, Va., K-VA-T Food Stores now operates 106 retail food outlets throughout the tri-state regions of Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.