Local officials see Loys’ purchase of store as positive

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – The purchase of Vidalia’s Sack ‘n’ Save by Natchez-based Supermarket Operations can only mean good things for the store and the area’s economy, locals officials said Wednesday.

An agreement was reached Monday for the company to buy the store from Texas-based chain Fleming, which bought it from Jitney Jungle Dec. 13. Supermarket Operations owns the two Natchez Markets, Ferriday Market and a Piggly Wiggly in Natchez.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said he has spoken before to the Loy family, which owns Supermarket Operations, about the company’s interest in buying the store.

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Now that the deal has been finalized, &uot;we’re elated,&uot;&160;Copeland said. &uot;I&160;think they will be an asset to the community, … a real boost to our area.&uot;

&uot;We’re very excited about it,&uot; said Linda Gardner, who serves as Vidalia’s economic development director as well as director of the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce.

&uot;They’re known for cleanliness, good service and competitive (pricing) in their stores,&uot;&160;she said. &uot;And it especially means a lot to us that the dollars they make stay in the local area.&uot;

Andrew Ketchings, executive director of the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority, agreed.

&uot;The Loys do a good job running their stores, … and with their being a locally-based company, the money they make isn’t shipped out to somewhere else, but stays in the local economy,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s great to see a local company doing so well.&uot;

&uot;It’s a wonderful development,&uot; said Cliff Merritt, president of the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce. &uot;The Loys have an excellent reputation and a commitment to what happens in the local community.&uot;

Dave Regan, vice president of the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce, believes that being locally based makes the company better able to serve its customers.

&uot;Management that’s not local might not be sensitive to the trends of local area,&uot; Regan said. &uot;They’re very sensitive to the local community.&uot;

Supermarket Operations plans to take over the store Jan. 4 and shut it down for about two weeks to clean, restock the shelves and upgrade the computer system. The store, which has about 60 employees, will then reopen as Vidalia Market.

The company also owns and operates Ball Food Store in Ball, La., and Oakdale Market in Oakdale, La.

Jitney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 1999 after rising debts and costs outstripped revenues.

On Dec. 13, Winn-Dixie bought 68 Jitney-owned stores for more than $80 million, while grocery chain Bruno’s bought 20 stores for more than $11 million.

Prior to Dec. 13, Jitney had already closed or sold more than 60 stores, most of them in or near large cities.