DONATION: New owners of The Markets show commitment to help community

Published 1:44 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Not much has changed since Supermarket Operations — a grocery store chain in Louisiana and Mississippi — was sold to Harps Food headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, said Anthony Gagnard, store manager at Ferriday Market.

In fact, a lot has stayed the same, including the Market’s community contributions, Gagnard said.

The new owners at Harps Food host an annual charity golf tournament in Arkansas, from which they use proceeds to help the communities they serve.

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This week, $2,500 of those proceeds were given to the Concordia Council on Aging.

“It was important for us to see what we could do to help them,” Gagnard said, adding the council had “reached out to us for help through one of our employees.”

Gagnard said the company was happy to oblige with funds set aside specifically for charitable organizations that would “put it to good use.”

Beatrice Williams, acting executive director of the Concordia Council on Aging, said the funds would help the center continue to serve a meal to those age 60 and above seven days a week, including weekends, instead of just five days a week.

“We feed them at the center and we deliver meals to homes,” Williams said. “On average, we feed around 80 a day at the center and deliver 100 hot meals and 60 frozen meals. We receive some state funds but most of the center’s funding is locally generated.”

In addition to the meals, Williams said the center also provides transportation, recreational activities and various programs and workshops for the elderly.

Gagnard said he has worked for Supermarket Operations for six years and just started managing the Ferriday store in December.

“Just like our communities and the customers who shop here, we were expecting a lot of change and they came in and said we’re not changing anything,” Gagnard said of Harps Food. “We want you to keep doing business the way you do business. When we express interest in getting involved with community organizations and groups they say, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it. We’ll see what we can do.’ We were treated well by the previous owners and we continue to be treated well by Harps.”

Supermarket Operations was founded by the late Harley Loy of Natchez in 1969. He took over Lewis’s grocery, which became The Big Star. Loy left the grocery chain, which now includes seven grocery stores, to his sons before he died in July 2019.

In addition to three stores in Natchez, the chain included stores in Ball, Ferriday, Vidalia, Louisiana, and another in McComb.

Harps operates 135 stores in four states including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas.

It is 100 percent owned by its employees, said a press release issued by its Chairman and CEO, Kim Eskew. Harvard and Floy Harp in Springdale, Arkansas founded the company in 1930.