Serving the Miss-Lou area since 1969, Supermarket Operations began in Natchez, Mississippi, but now operates seven store locations: three in the Natchez area, as well as Ball Foods, Ferriday Market, Vidalia Market, and McComb Market.
Old Big Star
The journey began when Mr. Harley Loy, who was raised on a small farm in Arkansas, started working as a young clerk in a supermarket chain in Atlanta, Georgia. After Atlanta, he moved back to his native Arkansas and continued in management with another supermarket chain, which ultimately took him to Little Rock, Malvern, Hot Springs, and Hope … and then he eventually moved on to an even larger store in Monroe, LA. Soon, his duties included advertising and public relations for eight north Louisiana supermarkets.
The opportunity to buy two stores in Natchez, Mississippi and two in Vidalia, Louisiana presented itself in 1969 and with these four stores, Supermarket Operations was formed in December 1969, and the family moved to Natchez. Mr. Harley worked 70 hour weeks during those early years … even helping out with maintenance and remodeling of the stores after closing hours.
None of the original locations are still in operation today, but Miss-Lou residents may remember the variety of names utilized by Supermarket Operations stores over the years: Lewis’ Supermarkets, Big Star, Loy’s Discount Foods, Super-Value, Dixie Dandy, Piggly Wiggly, and County Market.
Always looking to offer customers a better alternative, the company has made major renovations and changes in its storefronts and shopping environments. In the 1970’s, the company improved the Vidalia business by moving to the former Winn Dixie location west of town … then they bought the Jitney Jungle store in Natchez.
Today, Supermarket Operations operates three stores in Natchez (Natchez Markets 1 and South Side Market – opened in 1985; Natchez Market #2 opened in 1995), three stores in LA (Ball Foods – opened in 1993; Ferriday Market – opened in 1998; Vidalia Market – opened in 2001), and, another in Mississippi – (McComb Market –opened in 2005). During the 1980’s, Supermarket Operations purchased the Piggly Wiggly on Sgt. Prentiss Drive and built the first price impact supermarket in town, Natchez Market (called County Market at that time). The 90’s saw the addition of locations in Ball, LA, and the purchase of three closed Winn Dixie stores, providing a second Natchez Market and a new presence in Ferriday, LA. In 2009, a new store was built for Vidalia Market, replacing the old “Sak-n-Save” building it had occupied since 2000.
Responding quickly to customer’s requests and concerns, carrying a wide variety of products, and keeping up with the times, as well as focusing on a commitment to the communities they service, has been the strategy for success for Supermarket Operations. Locally-owned, the stores help put money spent in the stores right back into the local economy.
“Money spent in our stores is not sent off somewhere else…it stays right here in the community,” says Harley, also noting that his company supports many local causes, schools, churches, and charities and is the community’s fourth largest United Way contributor.
1703 Carter Street, Vidalia, La 71373