BY JOHN M. JONES JR.
The White's Fresh Foods grocery store in the Eastgate Shopping Center on Tusculum Boulevard will close permanently on Saturday evening, a spokesman said Tuesday.
The store, which an employee said has operated at that location for some 20 years, will close at 6 p.m. Saturday, according to Randall Tipton, division manager of the Eastern Division of Houchens Industries, Inc., of Bowling Green, Ky., which owns the White's grocery store group.
A closeout sale has begun and will continue until the store closes on Saturday, store manager Tom Whittaker said.
Tipton, the division manager, said in an interview Tuesday that the decision to close the store was based on the intense local competition in the grocery business and the fact that Houchens Industries also owns and operates another local grocery store: the Sav-A-Lot in the Towne Square Shopping Center on West Summer Street.
He said that the company is currently working with the approximately 14 local employees of White's Fresh Foods here, including store manager Whittaker, to try to provide employment opportunities at other Houchens-owned grocery stores either in Greeneville or in the area.
The White's Fresh Foods group consists of a number of retail grocery stores in Tennessee and Virginia.
The group was established and developed by former owner Douglas White and his father, Bob White.
White's Fresh Foods was sold to Houchens Industries early this year.
Houchens describes itself as one of the largest 100 percent employee-owned companies in the nation.
The company currently owns and operates businesses in a wide variety of fields, including insurance, manufacturing, retail grocery and convenience stores, construction, financial services, and a number of others.