EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 4/2/21– It’s certainly been a good Friday for some residents in El Dorado as a new grocery store opened this morning on East Hillsboro.
“The day has come and I’m glad about it,” Betty Arnold said.
Arnold is one of about 30 first-time customers that stood in line waiting for the grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. for Williams Foods.
Jackie Curley was one of those anxious residents who arrived at the store around 6:30 a.m. She says she was eager to not only buy some items but to support her nephew and niece, Greg and his fiancé Lashanda.
“I grew up here right down the corner there so I’m glad to have this store,” Curley said. “It means the world to me I don’t have to go on the avenue.”
When the doors finally opened, customers walked in with amazement. Greg Williams, owner of the grocery store, began making major renovations to the building last fall.
Williams says it’s been a journey completing the project but it was definitely a team effort with his family, business partners and the community. All of the contractors that were used were all from the Union County area except from one.
“We’re still in disbelief that we were able to pull it together. It’s definitely been a process but we are glad to just be at the point where we were able to get everything open,” Williams said. “When you’re able to get support from the community, it’s easy for people like me to step out on faith to address needs in the community because you feel like people will come and support you.”
Residents like Betty Arnold say it’s been years since this side of town has seen a grocery store. Now, people don’t have to travel far to get items on their shopping list. Plus, it’s in walking distance for many who live in the area neighborhoods.
“There was a big need to have a local place that is convenient where people can get the essential stuff that they need like fresh meat and vegetables and produce as well as dried goods,” he said. “We know we don’t have a lot of people in this neighborhood that don’t have cars so it allows them to conveniently walk up the street and get a day or two worth of groceries.”
Williams hired 12 employees from El Dorado to staff the store. The workers are training in real time and Williams asks for patience throughout the initial phases of opening.
“The place looks great. We’re really proud of it. We’re going to grow. It’s going to get better. We’re going to evolve and in 3-4 months this place is going to be running very efficient.”
The store will be open everyday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Neighborhood market coming to East Hillsboro possibly before the end of year, store owners looking for farmers with fresh produce
EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) 09/20– A neighborhood market will soon be coming to East Hillsboro Road with an expected completion date of by the end of the year.
To those passing by, this building may look like a lost cause but its potential is far greater that what they eye can see.
“No one will recognize it in a month based off of our construction plan,” Owner of Empire Properties, Greg Williams said. “It’s going to look modern. It’s going to look like a new building. It’s going to look really good.”
The visionaries behind this project are Greg Williams and Markeith Cook. Williams had the initial idea of the project and bought this building last month which used to be an old glass shop.
“When I was looking at this thing, I really saw a diamond in the rough,” Williams said in a live video posted to Facebook last week. “I was at the point early in the process where I didn’t want to buy this building because it was a situation where I felt overwhelmed.”
That’s when Williams called his now business partner, Markeith Cook, who saw his vision, encouraged him to pursue that goal and then told him he would help him with it.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Cook said in the video.
There are many phases to completing the upcoming neighborhood market.
Cook found a local contractor and the team started tearing parts of the building down just last week to make for better visibility for customers driving in and out of the parking lot.
They also cleared out the inside and now they are working on putting up a new roof on the building which will be a two week process.
Following that, they plan to reface the front of the building with new windows and of course a nice logo.
Williams and Cook went to Memphis Monday to talk with a business owner and get questions answered on the best way to make this store successful.
They’ve already purchased 30 refrigerator coolers to fill the store.
Right now, Williams doesn’t have a name for this new store but even those who haven’t been in the planning phases of the project can see its vision.
“Oh, it’s a big need because we have nothing here,” Betty Arnold said.
Betty Arnold, 66, has been living in a home off of East Hillsboro her whole life. It’s been about 15 years since that side of town has seen a grocery store.
Then, it was the hub for those living in that area who needed quick items or just needed a store within reasonable walking distance.
“I’m glad about it and I know my neighbors are glad about it. I can walk. I may even run,” Arnold said.
Williams’ goal is for the store to feature fresh produce and fresh meats but he doesn’t want it to come from store vendors he wants it to come straight from local farmers.
“I would love it if there are some farmers out there that have produce and are looking for produce instead of selling it on the side of the road,” Williams said. “I think it will present a great opportunity for me and those potential vendors.”
Arnold and Williams both agree having access to fresh foods in an area where its so limited is just what residents need.
This project aligns with his goals of trying to redevelop Hillsboro Road. The headquarters for his business, Empire Properties, is located further west on Hillsboro.
“We’re really targeting commercial building along east and west Hillsboro. We want to buy those buildings. We want to renovate them and we want to start businesses that fit a big need,” he said.
This is partially what inspired Williams’ vision with this grocery store. He also owns a liquor store just up the road from where the store will be located. That area of town is home for him and where his heart belongs.
If you’re an area farmer and looking to expand your business, you can contact Williams at 870-639-8058.