Food City recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary of the first retail store opened by Jack C. Smith, Food City founder and chairman of the board.
“As luck would have it, my mother sent me to the store for her one day,” remembers Mr. Smith. “It was a small A&P with only two checkouts and one of those was always closed. I collected the groceries I needed and then had to stand in line at the checkout 45 minutes. When I returned home, I informed my family I had found my calling – as the town was in need of a good supermarket”.
The Food City banner dates back to 1918 with the opening of a store in Greeneville, TN, but Food City’s parent company, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. really began with the opening of an 8,800 square foot (then Piggly Wiggly) unit by the Smith family in Grundy, Virginia on November 17, 1955. K-VA-T later acquired Quality Foods, a 19 store chain in 1984 and adopted the Food City name, followed by the acquisition of 37 White Stores in 1986, 11 Kennedy Piggly Wiggly locations in 1998 and finally 7 Winn-Dixie stores in 1999.
Now headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia, K-VA-T operates 91 Food City supermarkets throughout the tri-state regions of Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, in addition to two new Super Dollar Discount Foods limited assortment locations in Wytheville and Abingdon, Virginia.
“Our company was founded on the simple principle of running the best store in town. We strive to provide our customers with top quality products, exceptional service and the lowest possible price,” said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “We live, work and educate our children right here in our own market area and we whole-heartedly believe in giving back to the communities and the residents who have so generously supported us over the years.”
A special reception was held for Jack Smith and his family on November 16th at their new 46,500 square foot state-of-the-art Food City location on US Route 460 in Vansant, Virginia, near the site of their very first retail outlet. Over 400 people were in attendance, including friends, family, co-workers and numerous business partners and associates. Among the speakers offering congratulatory remarks were Tennessee State Representative, Jason Mumpower and Virginia Delegate, Terry Kilgore. A special pre-recorded message was delivered by Virginia Senator George Allen.
K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. ranked 39th on the latest (2005) Progressive Grocer’s list of America’s 50 Largest Supermarket Chains and 60th on Supermarket News “Top 75 North American Food Retailers” (January, 2005) and is the 4th largest privately held company in Virginia with over one billion dollars in sales.