Southwest: E-Z Mart Grows in 2010

by Joanna Kauffmann  on Monday, May. 23, 2011 12:00 am  

Going forward, Hubbard said, she's excited about the company's continuing importance and its potential for growth.

"I think our business and our industry proved to be a little recession-proof," she said. "It just reinforces how important it is. To me, it just kind of encourages me that we need to keep doing what we're doing but stay aware of what consumers want."

One of the ways that E-Z Mart will be doing that is through a new initiative to add more health food options to its stores, as a way of improving and updating the products it provides. The healthy food offerings are currently being tested at one store in Hot Springs.

It's a program that sprang from conversations with former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln and is particularly focused on areas where there isn't as much access to healthy food, Hubbard said. E-Z Mart, she believes, has a job to do and is dedicated to pushing a healthier food initiative when possible.

"We're trying to look at adding both fresh and healthier options," Hubbard said, "trying to become that sort of mini-grocery store to the extent that we could."

Hubbard has also been working with Arkansas Children's Hospital as a potential partner for the program. "I've got a meeting in June with them, trying to look at ways that they can help. They can provide recipes and exercise plans."

Hubbard acknowledges that everyone has some food vices that they aren't likely to give up, but she thinks it's important to try to incorporate healthy eating as much as possible, especially if that's what consumers demand.

With 40 years gone and some big changes in the works, one thing that remains constant is E-Z Mart's commitment to its birthplace. More than 600 of the company's 2,300 employees are in Arkansas, and the company is working to expand and improve its presence in the state and its dedication to its Arkansas customers.

Speaking for her company, Hubbard pretty much sums it up: "I may live on the other side of the street, but I'm an Arkansas citizen by heart."  



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