Categories

News & Updates

Check back for regular updates on Art Pope’s presence in the news.

Jan
31
2019

Art Pope named in the 2019 Power 100

Categories: Roses
2019 Power 100 by BusinessNC: Tuesday, January 29, 2019   ART POPE “Art” of the deal 62, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, VARIETY WHOLESALERS Henderson  See others in the Power 100 here: https://businessnc.com/2019-power-100/
Read more
Sep
20
2018

Pope Foundation Honors Retired President Sawyer With New VGCC Award

Categories: In the Headlines
WIZS, September 10, 2018 -Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College The Pope Foundation has created a new Academic Achievement Scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College in honor of retired Variety Wholesalers, Inc., President Wilson Sawyer of Raleigh. The scholarship will award $500 per year to a deserving student enrolled at Vance-Granville. Priority will be given to students who are employees of Variety Wholesalers (home store, distribution center or retail stores) and members of the families of those employees. Preference will be given to students who are pursuing a degree in Business Administration. “Our business roots in the area go back many years and we are proud to call Henderson and Vance County ‘home,’” said James Arthur “Art” Pope, chairman of Variety Wholesalers. “Wilson never lost sight of our customers and our promise to deliver great value and prices. We’re grateful for his friendship and dedication over these many years. We hope this scholarship inspires a new generation of leaders who share Wilson’s commitment to service.” “There are two reasons I’m excited about this scholarship,” said the honoree, Sawyer. “Number 1, if it helps folks in the company that helped me for many years, that’s a plus. Number 2, I’m a big supporter of the community college program and I think it’s important to encourage folks to start their education here.” Sawyer knows about the community college experience first-hand, he said. His daughter was a student at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford before transferring to a four-year institution when the family moved to Raleigh. “She excelled in college and I think it’s because of the basis that she got at the community college.” His daughter is now a school teacher, he said. Following a lifelong career in retail, Sawyer retired as president of Variety Wholesalers in February.  He started his career in the Maxway store management program, rising to hold various roles. When Variety Wholesalers acquired Maxway in 1990, Sawyer stayed with the company as president of the Maxway division. After years of leading multiple store brand divisions, he was named president and chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers Stores in 2003. When Bruce Efird joined Variety Wholesalers Stores as president in 2017, Saywer moved to holding company leadership. He remains on Variety’s board of directors and is assisting the company in an advisory capacity. “We are excited that the Pope Foundation and Variety Wholesalers have chosen to honor Mr. Sawyer with this new scholarship,” said Eddie Ferguson, director of the VGCC Endowment Fund. “Both have been stalwart supporters of our students and the college through contributions to scholarships and activities such as our golf tournament which also benefit students.” “I’ve been so impressed with the community support that has come to my attention since becoming Vance-Granville’s interim president,” added Dr. Gordon Burns, who assumed the new role in mid-August while VGCC searches for a permanent president. “This gift from the Pope Foundation will continue to honor Mr. Sawyer and help students each and every year, serving as a reminder of the importance of a community and its institutions getting involved in the education of our citizens. We are so grateful.” Founded in 1986 and located in Raleigh, the Pope Foundation makes grants to advance individual freedom, personal responsibility and encourage opportunity for all North Carolinians. The Pope Foundation’s lifetime giving totals more than $145 million directed to over 400 nonprofits. The Pope Foundation receives its support from the Pope family, owner and operator of the Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers, Inc. The new scholarship will add to the more than 9,000 scholarships that have been awarded to students since 1982, funded by interest earned on the Endowment Fund and Scholarship Program. Scholarships have been established by individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff to assist deserving students. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business, industry or organization with a lasting gift to education. In the Fall of 2017, Vance-Granville awarded scholarships to 306 students. Source: https://wizs.com/pope-foundation-honors-retired-president-sawyer-new-vgcc-award/
Read more
Sep
18
2018

Pope Foundation Establishes Scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College

Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College, September 10, 2018: The Pope Foundation has created a new Academic Achievement Scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College in honor of retired Variety Wholesalers, Inc., President Wilson Sawyer of Raleigh. The scholarship will award $500 per year to a deserving student enrolled at Vance-Granville. Priority will be given to students who are employees of Variety Wholesalers (home store, distribution center or retail stores) and members of the families of those employees. Preference will be given to students who are pursuing a degree in Business Administration. “Our business roots in the area go back many years and we are proud to call Henderson and Vance County ‘home,’” said James Arthur “Art” Pope, chairman of Variety Wholesalers. “Wilson never lost sight of our customers and our promise to deliver great value and prices. We’re grateful for his friendship and dedication over these many years. We hope this scholarship inspires a new generation of leaders who share Wilson’s commitment to service.” “There are two reasons I’m excited about this scholarship,” said the honoree, Sawyer. “Number 1, if it helps folks in the company that helped me for many years, that’s a plus. Number 2, I’m a big supporter of the community college program and I think it’s important to encourage folks to start their education here.” Sawyer knows about the community college experience first-hand, he said. His daughter was a student at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford before transferring to a four-year institution when the family moved to Raleigh. “She excelled in college and I think it’s because of the basis that she got at the community college.” His daughter is now a school teacher, he said. Following a lifelong career in retail, Sawyer retired as president of Variety Wholesalers in February.  He started his career in the Maxway store management program, rising to hold various roles. When Variety Wholesalers acquired Maxway in 1990, Sawyer stayed with the company as president of the Maxway division. After years of leading multiple store brand divisions, he was named president and chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers Stores in 2003. When Bruce Efird joined Variety Wholesalers Stores as president in 2017, Saywer moved to holding company leadership. He remains on Variety’s board of directors and is assisting the company in an advisory capacity. “We are excited that the Pope Foundation and Variety Wholesalers have chosen to honor Mr. Sawyer with this new scholarship,” said Eddie Ferguson, director of the VGCC Endowment Fund. “Both have been stalwart supporters of our students and the college through contributions to scholarships and activities such as our golf tournament which also benefit students.” “I’ve been so impressed with the community support that has come to my attention since becoming Vance-Granville’s interim president,” added Dr. Gordon Burns, who assumed the new role in mid-August while VGCC searches for a permanent president. “This gift from the Pope Foundation will continue to honor Mr. Sawyer and help students each and every year, serving as a reminder of the importance of a community and its institutions getting involved in the education of our citizens. We are so grateful.” Founded in 1986 and located in Raleigh, the Pope Foundation makes grants to advance individual freedom, personal responsibility and encourage opportunity for all North Carolinians. The Pope Foundation’s lifetime giving totals more than $145 million directed to over 400 nonprofits. The Pope Foundation receives its support from the Pope family, owner and operator of the Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers, Inc. The new scholarship will add to the more than 9,000 scholarships that have been awarded to students since 1982, funded by interest earned on the Endowment Fund and Scholarship Program. Scholarships have been established by individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff to assist deserving students. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business, industry or organization with a lasting gift to education. In the Fall of 2017, Vance-Granville awarded scholarships to 306 students. For more information, the Office of the Endowment can be reached by calling Endowment Specialist Kay Currin at (252) 738-3409.
Read more
Oct
10
2017

Art Pope Defends Free Speech, Addresses 1975 UNC Campus Event

In 1975, a young UNC student by the name of Art Pope opposed the idea that a single student could disrupt a speech brought to campus by the Student Union. Recently, a present-day UNC Chapel hill student uncovered the 1975 news story and shared his thoughts with The Daily Tarheel. His Letter to the Editor is below. Art Pope responded with his thoughts, pointing out that students should not celebrate the overturning of a speaker ban and applaud the efforts to ban other speakers. It was and remains a First Amendment issue. Daily Tarheel – Letter to the Editor:  10/1/2017, 11:26PM Art Pope’s racist history with UNC   TO THE EDITOR: In January 1975, a campus organization called the Union Forum used student fees to bring the National Information Director of the KKK to campus. His name was David Duke. Black students at the time were outraged. A press release from the Black Student Movement read in part “The mere sanctioning of the spread of Duke’s decadent philosophy is an unforgivable display of latent racism. Many have construed the argument of objectivity out of proportion. It is such “objectivity” that allows racial oppression even to this date. We as Black people feel divinely justified (if not obligated) to repress the rejuvenation of the Klan philosophy at its very on-set.” Shortly after Union Forum Director Jim Conrad introduced Duke to the stage, black and white students began to protest. Despite attempts from University Officials, Student Body President Marcus Williams, and even Duke himself, the students refused to leave or to be silent until David Duke left the building and his podium and microphone were removed from stage. They disrupted his speech. In the aftermath of this protest, The Daily Tar Heel received over fifty letters offering opinions in favor of and in opposition to the actions students took that day. But one freshman from Raleigh was especially perturbed. So much so, that he decided to sue the then President of the Black Student Movement, Algenon Marbley, in undergraduate honor court for “disruption”, a charge that could’ve led to Marbley being expelled from school. The freshman from Raleigh who brought the suit, who tried to get the BSM President kicked out of school for disrupting a speech on campus by the KKK, was Arthur “Art” Pope UNC ’78. Now, Art Pope is one of the most prolific funders of the Republican Party in the State of North Carolina. A Party that continues its assault on civil rights and against black, brown and trans people to this day. Does Arthur Pope still believe the KKK have a legitimate claim to first amendment protection when they speak and recruit students at campus sponsored events? Someone should ask him when he visits campus Tuesday as part of the Institute of Politics’ Fellows Program. Graham Memorial Hall Room 035. Starts at 5:15. Andrew Brennen Political Science Junior   Daily Tarheel – Art Pope Replies 10/8/2017, 10:28PM Art Pope responds to letter to the editor  TO THE EDITOR: It is unfortunate that the The Daily Tar Heel chose to further inflame the growing polarization and extremism in our society by publishing a letter to the editor by Andrew Brennen, Oct. 2, with the false and malicious headline, “Art Pope’s racist history with UNC.” I have no racist history, and Mr. Brennen’s letter did not accuse me of racism. What Mr. Brennan’s letter did ask was whether I believe that David Duke and the Klu Klux Klan “have a legitimate claim to first amendment protection” at campus sponsored events. My answer is that I stand by the quote attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Just seven years before, in 1968, a Federal Court rightfully overturned the state’s “Speaker Ban Law,” which banned known communists from speaking at UNC. You can’t celebrate the rejection of the speaker ban while embracing a ban on Duke. It is wrong and unconstitutional for a democratically-elected legislature (and for that matter, a single self-appointed student), to decide who should be banned from speaking, rather than letting each UNC student decide what he or she wants to hear.   James Arthur “Art” Pope President and Chairman of the John William Pope Foundation Class of 1978
Read more
Aug
26
2017

Pope says Variety Wholesalers management change won’t affect store strategy

Categories: In the Headlines, Roses
In a recent announcement, Variety Wholesalers stores announced that Bruce Efird will join the business as President and CEO. Longtime Variety veteran Wilson Sawyer has been promoted to President of the parent company, Variety Wholesalers Inc.  The leadership transition was covered in Triangle Business Journal and prompted questions of a potential strategy change. Variety Wholesalers Chairman, James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope answered the speculation.  The article appears in its entirety below. Former Dollar Express CEO named CEO of Roses parent Variety Stores By Lauren K. Ohnesorge – Staff Writer, Triangle Business Journal Aug 22, 2017, 14:47pm A management change announced Tuesday at Variety Wholesalers will help accelerate the discount retailer’s brick-and-mortar growth strategy, execs say in an interview. Bruce Efird, the former CEO of Dollar Express and Fred’s, Inc., will be the new president and CEO of Henderson-based Variety Stores – the company behind Roses and Super 10 – effective Sept. 11. Wilson Sawyer, currently president of Variety Stores, will take a new role as president of the parent company, Variety Wholesalers Inc. Hours after the announcement, Efird, Sawyer and Variety chairman Art Pope answered questions about the management moves, as well as Variety’s accelerating growth plans. Efird, who learned he’d been selected for the job two weeks ago, says the opportunity for growth helped lure his interest. Efird characterizes the discount retail sector as having “an incredibly bright future.” And he plans to leverage his experience to take advantage of its tailwinds. He – like the management team he’s entering – isn’t worried about the emergence of e-commerce. While online retailers like Amazon are disrupting brick-and-mortar firms across the globe, Variety has – at least so far – been protected from most of those pressures, says Pope. “We still have customers who want to look, touch and feel and shop when they need items, when they need to buy for their family,” Pope says. “At this point in time, we don’t see the need [for e-commerce], nor do we see the need to go into the e-commerce competition with Wal-Mart and Amazon and others.” Sawyer says price is also a factor in keeping Variety’s focus in-store. “We buy in all kinds of different quantities,” Sawyer says. “We buy everything from multi-truckloads to small quantities, so it’s very difficult to buy something online the way that we buy … And this provides our customers with savings they will not be able to find on the internet.” Pope says the plan is to continue to expand the brick-and-mortar way. Plans are in place to infill “in places where we are already doing business.” And he expects to take advantage of opportunities to expand in adjoining areas, as well. “We are growing and we have been growing on a controlled pace, and we do expect to accelerate that in the coming three to five years,” he says. It’s that kind of thinking that helped lure Efird. “It’s the consistent growth that the company has demonstrated over the past several years, with exceptional plans to continue,” Efird says. Efird started his retail career at Food Lion, going on to oversee the strategic direction of more than 700 stores as CEO and president of Tennessee-based Fred’s, Inc. Sawyer was president and CEO of Maxway Stores when Variety acquired the chain in 1990. Over the years, he’s held multiple roles at the firm, including chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers. Variety recently opened a second 1.4 million square foot distribution center in Newnan, Georgia, to help accommodate its growth plans. Source: https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2017/08/22/former-dollar-express-ceo-named-ceo-of-roses.html
Read more