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Merchants' weekend: top grocers, retailers honored at convention and trade show.

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS were presented and new officers were elected recently at the Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association's third annual convention and trade show in Hot Springs.

Those taking home the honors were:

* Grocers of the Year -- Fred and Mary Smith, Smitty's Food Stores, Magnolia.

* Grocery Company of the Year -- The Mad Butcher Inc., Pine Bluff.

* Retailer of the Year -- Robert Reynolds, Walter's, Harrison.

* Retail Company of the Year -- Sears Roebuck & Company, Chicago, Ill.

The Smiths operate 11 stores located in Magnolia (two), Camden, El Dorado, Fordyce, Gurdon, Hope, Lewisville, Prescott, Stamps and Stephens. The stores employ about 300 and generate nearly $40 million in annual sales.

The Mad Butcher Inc., celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, operates nine stores located in Pine Bluff (two), Clarendon, Dumas, Earle, Fordyce, McCrory, Sheridan and Warren. Through a progressive stock ownership program begun in the early 1970s, the company is owned by its roughly 400 employees.

Walter's is celebrating 125 years in business, and Reynolds has headed up the store the past 35 years. The store was mentioned in a March 29 column as an example of a still-successful Main Street retailer.

Sears has been in Arkansas 65 years. It operates seven full-line stores and 16 catalog outlets in the state with more than 2,000 full- and part-time jobs.

Winners are recognized for outstanding service to the association and to the state's business community, as well as for corporate performance.

Board Chairman Elected

Also at the convention in Hot Springs, Oral Edwards, owner-operator of eight G.E.S. Inc./Food Giant Stores of Forrest City, was elected chairman of the association's board of directors for the 1993-94 term. Jerry Guswelle of J.C. Penney Co.'s University Mall store in Little Rock was elected vice chairman, and George Lea Jr. of The Mad Butcher was elected secretary.

The group's board of directors has 44 members who serve three-year stints. Elected in Hot Springs for first terms were Mike Compton of Spirits Unlimited in Little Rock and Kirk Gore of SuperValu/Lewis Grocer in Indianola, Miss.

Elected to serve additional terms were Paul Bone of Bone's Thriftway in Clinton; James Branyan of Starr Fashions in Camden; Gary Burhop of Fleming Companies in Oklahoma City, Okla.; Jim Dockins of Continental Baking Company in Little Rock; Kirk Dupps of Sam's Clubs in Bentonville; Ray Fureigh of Haverty's Furniture in Little Rock; Barbara Graves of Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions in Little Rock; Doy Grubbs of Northside Food Center in Mena; Dorothy Holland of Dorothy's in Cabot; Dale McKinney of Broadway Fashions in Jonesboro; Randy Moore of DRM/Superstops in Little Rock; Phil Olinghouse of The Toggery in Little Rock; and John Young of Gingles Department Store in Benton.

A Support Tool

The association was formed in a 1990 merger between the Arkansas Grocers Association and the Retail Merchants Association and is composed of more than 500 member companies representing more than 1,000 retail locations throughout the state.

The association is a support tool for retailers. It offers educational programs and business services to the industry, and it provides communication vehicles and a political voice for retailers.

For example, AGRMA offers a preferred rate to members for credit card processing and was recently active in lobbying the General Assembly for a civil recovery law that goes into effect this August.
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Title Annotation:Inside Retailing
Author:Ford, Kelly
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Jun 21, 1993
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