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Business Pulse - Walmart to continue 24-hour schedule
Green Hill Market.jpg
After 29 years of owning Locke’s Green Hill Market, Darrell and Tina Locke have sold the store. Pictured are new owners and former owners, from left, Reda Hanna, Malak Addey, Tina, Darrell, and Kimoo Azmy.

If you recall, I began last week’s column with a good news/ bad news scenario. For this week, I figure let’s just start with some good news surrounding Walmart, my favorite retail giant.

As Walmart looks to operate with efficiency, the company has announced some of its stores will no longer be open 24 hours a day. One release I was reading several weeks ago said about 100 Walmart stores in the U.S. would abandon their 24-hour schedule and close in the early morning hours. Some stores were opting to close from 1 to 6 a.m.

I’ve received questions about whether this would be happening at our McMinnville store and I’m pleased to say it’s not. Management at our local store and Walmart media relations both told me on Friday there are no plans for our store to change its 24-hour format.

Hooray! While I generally don’t shop between 1 and 6 a.m., I’m thankful to have that option if I’m backed into a corner and really need taco seasoning at 3 a.m.

Since I’m writing about Walmart, I noticed the company’s reach is staggering with 4,960 stores in the U.S. If you’re wondering, Texas tops the list with 516 Walmarts and Tennessee ranks 10th with 137 stores.

San Antonio is reportedly the city with the most Walmart brand stores, which includes Walmart Express, Walmart Fuel Center, and Walmart Neighborhood Market. San Antonio has 33 Walmart stores, according to company data. Yes, 33 stores.

Before I close this segment, I want to give a shout-out to Walmart media relations. As a general rule, contacting media relations for a large company like Walmart is usually a web of never-ending voicemail options or emails that are never returned.

I received a return call from Walmart media relations in about 30 minutes and found that to be so surprising I’m writing about it now.

Green Hill Market

Loses its Locke

For 45 years, Green Hill Market has been in the Locke family. But that changed in June when Darrell and Tina Locke decided to change gears, enter the slower lane of travel, and sell Locke’s Green Hill Market.

Darrell and Tina had owned the store, located on the corner of Smithville Highway and Green Hill Road, for the past 29 years.

“The Lord provided us a great living while we were there,” said Darrell. “We managed to put three kids through college and we met some great friends along the way. We were very blessed with a lot of regular customers.”

I’ve always thought the demands of operating a country store would be relentless. Darrell and Tina admitted the hours could be long, but they certainly enjoyed the work. The day would start at 4 a.m. and Tina said it would be common for them to work until 7 p.m. That was six days a week.

“For anyone who has ever owned a store, you know it’s more than just a store,” said Tina. “It’s what you put into it and we worked hard at it and worked to develop what I’d call our own ministry. If you needed someone to talk to, we were there. It you needed prayers for you or someone in your family, we were there. The most difficult part about leaving the store is leaving the people we’ve helped. But it’s time for a new chapter.”

Darrell says they would serve around 250 biscuits every morning and have around 400 customers on an average day. They prided themselves on not selling beer or lottery tickets.

“We tried to do the right thing as Christians,” said Darrell.

The biggest change came around 2002 when Darrell and Tina decided to level the store which had been at that sport for some 50 years and construct a new store.

“It was a good decision because everyone likes it much better,” said Darrell.

With Darrell at age 55 and Tina at age 54, they aren’t using the retirement word just yet. Tina says the purpose of selling the store is for them to slow down. Darrell said they are ready to get away from the grind that comes with running a store and they will seek other jobs down the road.

The new owners are Reda Hanna, Malak Addey and Kimoo Azmy. They have dropped Locke’s from the name and the store is now known as Green Hill Market. Darrell and Tina say they are nice folks and they hope their regular customers give the new owners a chance to earn their business.

A tribute to

Sandy Young

When Hubert Hillis passed away in 2003, I thought the magic of the old, wooden store at Depot Bottom, known for its thick bologna sandwiches, would go with him.

I was wrong about that.

There was one short-lived attempt in 2004 to revive the old Hubert Hillis Grocery that didn't turn out too well before Sandy Young entered the picture. 

Sandy took over the building and it was just like old times for her business called Depot Bottom Country Store. The business thrived as customers loved Sandy’s cooking and her outgoing personality. After three years of illness, I’m sorry to report Sandy passed away Monday morning at age 61.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy on several occasions and one characteristic that always beamed through is that she was a fighter. Despite two surgeries and chemotherapy treatment, she never let her health keep her from the restaurant she loved and she powered through difficult situations.

“I worked all the time and that’s what kept my sanity,” Sandy told me in 2017. “It kept me from getting depressed.”

While cancer couldn’t keep her away from Depot Bottom Country Store, the cost of private health insurance eventually did. She left her restaurant and her family of friends in late 2017 to take a factory job because it came with medical benefits.

“This is not what I wanted to do,” said Sandy in October of 2017. At the time, she had owned Depot Bottom Country Store for 11 years. “I’m trying to convince myself I’m good with it, but it’s been hard. I love my customers and I will miss them more than you can imagine. This was eventually going to be my son’s store anyway. We just had to do it sooner than expected.”

The store is now in the capable hands of her son and daughter-in-law, Travis and Olivia Young.