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By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Piggly Wigglyâs pharmacy closed June 28 as part of its sale, along with 56 other grocery stores throughout the region, to a different grocery store chain.
Belle Foods bought Southern Family Marketâs 57 stores in a process which began in February and was finalized June 30, Jonathan Harris, a marketing official with Belle Foods, said. In the past, the store has borne many names, starting as Foodmax and then becoming Southern Family Market before becoming Piggly Wiggly. Soon, Harris said, the store will bear Belle Foodsâ name.
âCurrently the 57 stores involved in the sale are under several different banners, including Piggly Wiggly, Southern Family Markets, Brunoâs and Food World in (Mississippi), Alabama, Florida and Georgia,â Harris said.Â âMoving forward, all of the stores will be unified under the Belle Foods name. The changeover is not set in stone, but we would love to have the name changed by the first home football game.â
Harris said the decision to close Southern Family Marketâs pharmacies was made before Belle Foods purchased the stores. This decision only affects 16 of the stores, he said, and Belle Foods plans to alleviate the transition for both employees and customers.
âThere should be little or no changes in employment in the main store,â Harris said. âOur goal is to fold those (pharmacy) employees affected into the main store.â
Starkville Piggly Wiggly manager Max Stillman said Harrisâ plan was not far off. While not everyone from the pharmacy has been folded back into Piggly Wiggly, he said the pharmacyâs closure has not left its employees jobless.
âEveryone has jobs that worked over there (in the pharmacy,)â Stillman said. âCVS actually hired all three of our (pharmacy) technicians. They were really good people ... very good pharmacists.â
Piggly Wiggly has also forwarded its prescriptions to CVS. Calls to CVSâs automated response system now feature options for customers making the transition.
Harris said the Starkville store has many positive assets, and Belle Foods hopes to build on them by building community connections and improving experiences for shoppers. He said Belle Foods was created specifically to buy the Southern Family Market chain.
âC&S Distributors, the largest wholesale grocery distributor in the United States, purchased the chain in 2007,â Harris said.Â âC&Sâs only goal was to keep the chain going until a suitable buyer could be found. This sale is the culmination ofÂ a program to save the stores which was started back in 2009.â