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Food City celebrates 100 years in business

From staff reports • Apr 10, 2018 at 9:00 PM

ABINGDON — Food City is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

“Food City is extremely proud to be a local, family-owned company. Our heritage dates back 100 years. While the Smith family entered the grocery business in 1955, the Food City chain we purchased in 1984 dates back to 1918, when the Humphreys family opened their first supermarket in Greeneville, Tenn.,” Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

Company founder Jack C. Smith, along with his father Curtis, cousin Ernest and uncle Earl, opened their first Piggly Wiggly store in Grundy, Va., in 1955. The Smith family went on to construct three additional locations, followed by the purchase of several smaller chain stores in 1974 and a joint venture that resulted in partial ownership of their first distribution center, Mid-Mountain Foods Inc. In 1984, Smith purchased Quality Foods, doubling the size of the company and opting to adopt Food City as the company banner.

In 1989, Smith entered the Knoxville market, again more than doubling the size of the company with the acquisition of 43 White Stores, followed by 11 Kennedy Piggly Wiggly locations and six Winn-Dixie supermarkets in the 1990s and eight Knoxville area BI-LO supermarkets in 2006. In 2015, the company entered the Chattanooga and North Georgia market areas with the purchase of 29 additional BI-LO locations. The company has also incurred significant growth through the construction of new units throughout their market area while aggressively remodeling and replacing existing locations as needed to best serve their customers.

Over the years, Food City has incorporated loyalty marketing programs, pharmacy and fuel centers in its retail supermarkets in addition to curbside pickup and home delivery.

“The grocery industry has certainly seen its fair share of changes over the past 100 years. From the days of groceries being stored behind the counter to self-service supermarkets, scanning registers, curbside pickup and now home delivery service — a lot has changed. But one thing that has remained the same is our unwavering commitment to our customers, our associates and the communities we serve,” Smith noted.

Over 13 percent of the company is owned by associates through the company’s employee stock ownership plan. Through a partnership with local farmers, Food City has purchased more than $53.7 million in fresh produce from local growers over the past 10 years.

The company also supports countless community events and civic groups. In the past two years alone, Food City has contributed more than $10.4 million in support of local organizations and activities, $6.1 million to area schools and more than $34.7 million in product donations to local food banks. Partnering with customers during the past 10 years, the retail supermarket chain has raised more than $3.9 million to benefit local hunger relief organizations through its annual Race Against Hunger campaign, more than $911,500 for the Paralyzed Veterans Association, more than $1.6 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and more than $1.5 million in funds to benefit area disaster relief efforts. Additionally, the Food City Charitable Foundation has contributed more than $1.56 million to local not-for-profit organizations throughout the region. Food City is also the longest running sponsor at Bristol Motor Speedway, serving as the title sponsor for the Food City 500 and Food City 300 NASCAR races, as well as a major corporate partner for several local athletic programs, including the University of Tennessee, East Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Emory & Henry College.

The company recently announced plans to donate $100,000 in additional monies to charitable organizations throughout the region in the Food City 100th Anniversary Charity Challenge. The company is also bringing back one of its most unique and successful promotions, the Food City $100,000 Treasure Hunt. During the next several months, the Treasure Hunt Prize Team will hit the road to award big cash prizes to winners throughout Food City’s market area. Visit www.foodcity.com for details on these activities.

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