Former Kmart warehouse back in business
By Walter Jones | March 30, 2017
The Newnan Times-Herald
A huge warehouse that helped establish Newnan’s reputation as a distribution hub is
Art Pope, Chairman and CEO of Variety Wholesalers, speaks to company executives and county officials during the opening of a 1.4 million square foot distribution center in Coweta County, Georgia. Photo credits to Walter Jones/The Newnan Times-Herald.
nce again housing hundreds of jobs and acres of merchandise following Wednesday’s ribbon cutting for Variety Wholesalers Inc.
The Herring Road facility built for Kmart has been vacant since that company moved out in January 2015. Last August, Variety announced it had signed a lease with the building’s new owners for 1.4 million of the 1.9 million square feet of space.
The area Variety is using, equal to 29 football fields, has space for 80,000 pallets of goods that will be shipped to stock 180 stores of the Roses, Roses Express and Maxway brands. That includes a Roses Express store in Newnan’s Merchant’s Crossing, 50 Bullsboro Drive that recently opened.
It will also serve future stores the company has planned in Georgia and neighboring states, according to CEO Art Pope.
“We’re looking forward to a long, great partnership,” he told company executives and local civic leaders on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony choreographed by the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce.
The Newnan building is the 102-year-old company’s only distribution center outside of its headquarters in Henderson, N.C.
“This, for us, was a major undertaking,” said Variety President Wilson Sawyer.
The company was attracted to Newnan because of its location near major highways in all directions. But it was also considering other sites around the Southeast.
“I knew they had a lot of options available, but they chose us,” said Greg Wright, president of the Coweta County Development Authority.
The building’s size and readiness were major factors in the decision, as was use of the racks and conveyor systems that Kmart left in place, according to executives who say there are few buildings of that size available anywhere in the country. The equipment simply allowed Variety to move in faster and get up and running sooner than other sites.
Sawyer also gave credit to local and state officials for streamlining the processes for permits, hiring and training.
“Lots of communities like to say they are business-friendly,” he said. “But I’ll tell you most of them are not serious about it. The folks here are serious.”
With the help of two job fairs offered by the Georgia Department of Labor and training by the Georgia Technical College System’s QuickStart program, Variety has already hired 11 managers and 200 full-time employees, some who had worked at the same building for Kmart. And the company is still hiring, currently for truck drivers. It will eventually have 320 employees here.
Shipments begin this week to the first handful of stores from merchandise that has been arriving for six weeks.
In the years since Kmart built a warehouse here, other companies have followed suit, including PetSmart and SYGMA.
In an August 29, 2016 article with the Atlanta Business Chronicle, it was announced that Variety Wholesalers is investing $10.5 million to open a distribution center in west central Georgia, about 40 miles outside of Atlanta. Art Pope is CEO and Chairman of Variety Wholesalers.
Variety Wholesalers bringing 320 jobs to Newnan
Atlanta Business Chronicle | August 29, 2016
Retail chain Variety Wholesalers Inc. will invest $10.5 million to open its second major distribution center in Coweta County, creating 320 jobs.
The distribution center in Newnan, Ga., will support Variety Wholesalers stores as the company expands its presence in the southeastern, midwestern and south central United States. The new jobs will include positions in management, operations, transportation and logistics.
Henderson, N.C.-based Variety Wholesalers has 360 stores in 16 states, including 48 stores in Georgia. It sells apparel, shoes and accessories for the family, home décor and furniture.
From the Cheraw Chronicle (December 9, 2015)
A Roses Express store will open in Cheraw early next year, owner and operator Variety Wholesalers Inc. announced Monday.
The store will be located at 524 Chesterfield Highway near Cheraw High School and plans to hire 30 to 40 employees. Grand opening is set for spring 2016.
“Variety Wholesalers Inc. is proud to be a part of the Cheraw community and is committed to providing customers with quality products at great prices,” Wilson Sawyer, chief operating officer of the Henderson, North Carolina-based discount chain, said in a news release.
Roses operates stores throughout the Southeast, offering family apparel and shoes, accessories, home furnishings and décor, toys, health and beauty products and other household items.
A family-owned business that began in eastern North Carolina in 1922, Variety Wholesalers now operates roughly 400 stores in 16 Southeastern states. Its chairman, Art Pope, is the son of founder John W. Pope, who took over his family’s five “five-and-dime” stores in 1949.
Rep. Holley, Art Pope, and Councilman Weeks at the April 1 Save-A-Lot grand opening
On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, Variety Wholesalers CEO Art Pope, joined Variety Wholesalers President Wilson Sawyer to officially open the doors to their newest store venture, a Save-A-Lot grocery store at 1610 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Raleigh.
Several local representatives were on hand to mark the occasion including Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley and Raleigh District Councilman Eugene Weeks. Holley praised Variety Wholesalers for the social impact the store will have on Raleigh, noting that some issues were beyond politics. She praised the number of jobs created and the effort Variety Wholesalers made to hire from the community.
At the grand opening, two separate $2,000 checks were presented to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the Salvation Army on behalf of Variety Wholesalers.
The news article below appeared online with the News & Observer on April 1.
Save-A-Lot store opens in Southeast Raleigh
Kroger left in 2012, leaving residents with few grocery options
BY SARAH BARR
A new Southeast Raleigh grocery store aims to fill a need for fresh, affordable food in a neighborhood where residents were left with few grocery options after a Kroger closed two years ago.
Save-A-Lot, part of a chain of more than 1,300 discount grocery stories, opened Wednesday in the former Kroger building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Variety Wholesalers, headed by former state budget director Art Pope, owns the 18,000-square-foot store, along with a Roses store that’s connected to the new grocery.
Shoppers toured Save-A-Lot after a grand-opening ceremony Wednesday, searching out deals on fresh produce, meat, dairy and other foods.
They found an 8-pound bag of Red Delicious apples for $2.99, a box of elbow macaroni for 87 cents, a 2-pound pack of boneless pork chops for $6.55 and a gallon of whole milk for $3.75.
Lisa Toon, 51, said she’s relieved to see a grocery store return to the shopping center. Since Kroger closed, she’s had to drive past the empty building to get to the nearest grocery store and hasn’t been able to find groceries as cheaply as she would like.
“It will make life a whole lot easier,” she said as she and her husband, Ledell, pushed a cart with chicken, paper towels and eggs.
In late 2012, Kroger announced it would pull out of the location because of declining sales figures. Residents and elected officials said the move was a major loss and worried about how it would affect the neighborhood.
They especially had concerns about those without cars who have had to rely on several buses to get to the nearest full-service grocery stores about a mile away.
Of the 4,000 households within a mile of the store, 25 percent earn less than $15,000 a year and more than half earn less than $35,000.
The median household income in Wake County is about $66,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Variety Wholesalers bought the Kroger building last summer for $2.57 million, prompting public criticism from some community leaders who dislike Pope’s support for conservative causes.
At the store’s opening, Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, a Wake County Democrat, said the issue is not a political one.
“Guess what? When you’re hungry you don’t say are you a Democrat or a Republican,” she said. “Some issues exceed politics.”
In the state legislature, Holley has pushed to bring attention to the issue of “food deserts,” communities where families don’t have easy access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
She said the new store also is important for the economic development it could help spur in the area by adding jobs and anchoring the shopping center.
The Save-A-Lot employs 27 people, and the Roses employs 70.
Variety Wholesalers officials have said the pairing of the Roses with a Save-A-Lot should encourage residents to make the trip to the shopping center, heading off the problems Kroger had in the location.
Customer Sharon Paige, 60, showed up to shop for groceries before the ribbon across the front of the building was even cut. She’s looking forward to buying household items at Roses, then heading next door to Save-A-Lot.
“You can do everything in one step,” said Paige, who said she may even walk to the store from her home in Chavis Heights.
Variety Wholesalers, a Henderson, NC- based company which owns and operates a chain of retail stores including Roses, has honored two long-term employees who have spent nearly six decades with the store.
Article by The Daily Dispatch (Henderson, NC)
Written by: By Sarah Mansur
March 21, 2015
Ruth Bartholomew and Pete Pegram each have spent nearly six decades as employees of Variety Wholesalers in Henderson.
They are two of 12 employees honored recently by the Henderson-based company, which owns Roses Inc.
Communications Director Mel Hanks said the total service of all 12 comes to 382 years.
“That is just an astounding number,” said Wilson Sawyer, chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers, in a press release. “We are proud of all our associates, but we are especially happy that the ones we’re honoring have been so loyal and productive for so very long.”
The other employees celebrated for varying lengths of service between five and 40 years are Dot Inscoe, Rickey Owen, Debbie Taylor, Kay Ayscue, Candy Stevens, Mary Beth Boynton, Dave Stinson, Mike Burgess, Alex Ellington, and Kelly Currin.
Pegram and Bartholomew are the longest serving employees at Variety Wholesalers.
Bartholomew, 78, has been with the company in several different roles for 58 years.
She began in 1957 as a data entry employee when she was 20 years old.
Her title now is senior merchandise distribution specialist.
“Every boss I’ve had has been a good boss,” Bartholomew said. “I’ve not had a problem with anyone since I been here.”
Her daughter worked in the Roses Inc.’s offices before she had children.
And Bartholomew’s husband worked there for more than 30 years before retiring.
As of now, she has no plans to retire.
“We work but we have fun,” she said.
Pegram, 79, trails not far behind Bartholomew with 56 years at the company.
When he began working for Variety Wholesalers, the company sent him to New York City for four weeks for training.
It was his first plane ride and his first trip to the Big Apple.
His current job is working as a computer programmer in the accounting department.
Pegram said technology has changed drastically since he started his career.
“We went from punch cards to saving things on magnetic tape and disk storage,” he said. “Now, it’s all online. It’s all on the screen in front of you.”
He said he feels fortunate to have worked this long in the same company.
“I am fortunate to have been able to grow and learn here,” he said.