Harps Food Stores Inc. of Springdale is expected to open its England location this week, according to our Lonoke County bureau.
If you recall, Harps took over the space at 301 Pine Bluff Hwy. that was vacated by Kroger Co., in July.
The ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, said England Mayor David “Butch” House.
“We’re so thankful for Harps,” House said. “It will bring employees here. It will have services for our citizens. We will not be a food desert.”
J. Max Van Hoose, an executive vice president at Harps, told Whispers that about 40 employees have been hired for the location. “We think there needs to be a grocery store there,” Van Hoose said. “We feel like we can serve a community like England fairly well.”
Kroger announced in June that it was closing the England store and four others in Arkansas because of “poor performance and struggling sales.”
The fewer than 3,000 residents of England had to drive about 25 miles for fresh produce and protein.
House said it has been difficult without a grocery store in town for the last several months. A food pantry was available, and some of the citizens and churches offered rides to people to get groceries.
“That’s kind of what we do in a small community,” House said.
On the Move
Did you know Harps is relocating its Harrison store from 611 Hwy. 62-65 N. to space that once housed the J.C. Penney in the Fashion Center in Harrison?
The new Harps will be about 34,000 SF and incorporate the former J.C. Penney location and some peripheral space at the shopping center, Van Hoose said.
That store is scheduled to open in the first quarter of the year.