1979 Crash Hurried Magic Mart's End

by Jack Whitsett  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

Memories and Buffets

Every month, Vaughn, who lives in Benton, meets a group of former Sterling employees for lunch at Franke’s Cafeteria at University Mall in Little Rock.

The gatherings, which started immediately after the company closed, have dwindled from 45-50 people to around 10, she said.

“It was a very close-knit group of people,” Vaughn said. “Everybody felt like your family.”

Now working part time at the southwest Little Rock office of the Dave Grundfest Co., a construction firm run by the grandson of the Sterling co-founder, she spoke with reverence of kindnesses received from three generations of Grundfests.

“Mr. Dave Grundfest Sr. was the kind of person who had a concern for people,” she said. “He was always very, very good to me.”

Communication skills came naturally to him, Vaughn said, so a person bringing a concern to Grundfest could count on a thorough hearing.

“You always felt like you were the most important person,” she said.

“A lot of people have never gotten over working for Sterling,” Wilkins, author of numerous romance and adventure novels, said. “Mr. Dave [Jr.] was like a godfather to me. Dave Jr. and Dave Sr. were very interested in the people that worked there for them.”

Wilkins lives in Jacksonville with her husband and family.

“It was a great place to work back then,” Forbes said. “We had a big Christmas talent program every year. That was something we all looked forward to, and everyone was eager to be involved. The company would furnish a bus during racing season for the ladies to go to Oaklawn for a day. Every one of the buyers’ offices had a picture of the old Mr. Grundfest, and they had a box of cigars on their desks.”

Loyalty thrived in such an environment and served as a powerful incentive for attendance, Vaughn said.



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