On Halloween Night, Oct. 31, 1947, Don Sr. and Bertha Woods opened their first store in Long Lane, Mo. To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of this unique achievement, the 12 Woods Supermarkets have been having a month-long sale and sweepstakes.

The sweepstakes Grand Prize is a 2017 Ford Fusion. On Oct. 25 one finalist from each Woods location was selected to go to the Woods store in Bolivar on Saturday, Oct. 28, for a drawing to select the winner. The 11 runner-ups will be awarded a 43” TV. The drawing will begin at 12:30 p.m. and the public is invited watch the selection. The drawing will be broadcast live on KYOO FM 99.1 and AM 2100. Thirty-six 43” TVs were given away one in each Woods store in three weekly drawings held earlier in October.

“In 2017, our 70th year in business, we have a company that my parents could not have envisioned when they founded it in 1947,” said Don Wood Jr. “Technology has and is changing the jobs and the grocery shopping experience. Customer eating habits/demands, product availability and packaging have changed how and what people buy.”

The first store was called Woods & Volner General Store. Don and Bertha co-owned the business with her sister and brother-in-law. The two couples were the store’s only employees and none of them had any grocery experience. Being a small town General Store meant they sold groceries, meat, gasoline, kerosene, dry goods, hardware, feed and supplies, as well as fresh eggs, fresh cream and whatever fruits and vegetables they could buy from the local farmers. If you needed something, W&V probably sold it. Times were not easy. The four owners worked long hours seven days a week.

In 1951, the two couples sold their Long Lane store and Don and Bertha bought their first store, without partners, in Buffalo. It was a 40-ft. x 60-ft. structure, located on the northeast corner of the square, in a town of 1,200 people and seven competing stores. In less than a year, they sold the store to do something a little easier. After trying farming and carpentry for a living, it wasn’t long before Don Sr. and Bertha bought back the Buffalo store and devoted the rest of their careers to building the Woods’ company.

When Don Jr. and Joan married in 1971, they decided to join his folks in the family business. They took on his parent’s long hours, rigorous work ethic and quickly learned the importance of dealing honestly and fairly with employees, vendors and customers.

“And while working in the grocery business wasn’t always easy,” Joan said, “we both agree, it was the beginning of an incredibly blessed life that continues to this day.”

Woods Supermarkets’ other 11 current Missouri locations are: Bolivar (1967), Stockton (1969), El Dorado Springs (1972), Nevada (1989), Sedalia (1994), Warrensburg (2012), Sunrise Beach (2013), Eldon (2015), Lake Ozark (2015), Osage Beach (2015) and Sedalia West (2017). Woods has had more than their share of tornadoes, fires, winter storms and competition that threatened the company’s very existence, but in every case Woods associates and vendors rallied to show the Woods family they were not just an employer or a customer, they were friends in trouble and friends help friends.

“For any kind of business to still be operating in 70 years is quite an accomplishment, but for a small independent, family grocery store chain operating in small rural communities, it is unheard of,” stated Craig Easter, CEO of Woods Supermarkets. “In small, rural communities across the country, grocery stores are disappearing. There are several common reasons for this, like: shrinking population; the fierce competition of big box retailers; not having a succession plan in place; and ownership not willing to invest in the future. I am happy to report this is not the case with Woods Supermarkets and the communities we serve.”

Woods is growing, not going. They have nearly doubled the number of stores and their nearly 1,000 employees are more than double the staff they had 15 years ago. All their stores are new, enlarged or remodeled in the past nine years. They have added new technology, new Rewards Card savings, pharmacies, delis, bakeries, service meat counters, florist shops, more service stations to honor their fuel saver program, a “No Hassle” Guarantee on everything you buy and in 2017, Woods added Online Shopping with Curbside Pickup.

Facebook Comments