Loy family to buy store in Vidalia

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Supermarket Operations, owner of the Natchez Markets and five other grocery stores in Mississippi and Louisiana, will buy Vidalia’s Sack ‘n’ Save store, a company official confirmed Tuesday.

On Dec. 13 Lewisville, Texas-based grocery chain Fleming bought the Vidalia supermarket and 13 other stores from Jackson-based Jitney Jungle Stores of America in a bankruptcy auction.

But on Monday, an agreement was finalized for Natchez-based Supermarket Operations to buy the market from Fleming, said Barry Loy, director of retail sales for the family-owned company.

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&uot;We’ll take possession of the store Jan. 4 and shut it down for about two weeks to clean it, restock it and upgrade the computer system,&uot;&160;Loy said. &uot;And we’ll reopen as Vidalia Market.&uot;

Supermarket Operations does not intend to make any other immediate changes to the store, he said.

Loy confirmed that the purchase &uot;is something that we’ve been looking at for quite a while, a couple of months at least.&uot;

&uot;We believe it fits well into our marketing plan,&uot; he added, noting that Supermarket Operations already owns two Natchez Markets, a Ferriday Market and a Natchez Piggly Wiggly.

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

Officials at Jitney Jungle’s home office in Jackson would say little about the transaction except to confirm that the Vidalia store had been sold to Fleming.

And management at the Carter Street store would not comment, saying they had been told to refer all questions to Jitney Jungle.

Neither Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland nor Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Gardner could be reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

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.