Art Pope is Chairman and CEO of Variety Wholesalers, Inc., a private family-held business that owns and operates a general merchandise retail chain that includes Roses and Maxway stores, among others. The company employs over 7,000 people at its Henderson, NC headquarters and throughout its 270+ store locations in the East. In 2012, Art was named to Triangle Business Journal’s list of the “Triangle’s 100 Most Influential Business Leaders.”
Art is also Chairman of the John William Pope Foundation, a private grant-maker supported by the Variety Wholesalers and Pope family. The Pope Foundation was founded by Art in 1986 at the direction of his father, John William Pope with the intent to make a positive contribution to the future of North Carolinians.
To date, the foundation has given over $100 million in grants to support public policy, education, arts, and humanitarian efforts. The Foundation’s philanthropic vision is rooted in meeting real human needs, in the short-term through humanitarian aid, and in the long-term through liberty-oriented organizations that foster a freer, more prosperous society.
Art has also committed his career to public service. In the North Carolina House of Representatives, Art served four terms (1989-1992, 1999-2002). He also served as Special Counsel to Governor Jim Martin of North Carolina in 1985 after working on Martin’s campaign. Art is an activist in the Republican Party, having served at every level from precinct chairman to Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party State Convention and delegate to the Republican National Convention (1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012). Starting in January 2013 he served nearly two years as state budget director, appointed by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.
His services have also extended to numerous nonprofit and government boards and commissions. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. He was inducted into the Wallace Carl Riddick Society at N.C. State University in 2004 for his contributions to the school. In 2009, Art Pope received the Thomas Roe Award from the State Policy Network for his innovation and leadership in promoting free markets and less intrusive government at the state and local level. Art lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. with Honors (1978) and received his J.D. from Duke University (1981). He and his wife Kathy have a blended family of three adult children.
If character is defined by what we do when no one is looking, then Art Pope’s character is defined by his philanthropic work over the past 25 years.
Throughout his public service career, Art’s top goal has been to reform North Carolina’s state government, public education system, budget, and taxes to better serve citizens.