Greg Godby of Greg's Market "Where Nice Matters"
(Clinton, KY) - With the Labor Day Weekend approaching, it seems a good time to sit down with a small town employer.
Our friend, Greg Godby, was the logical choice. He owns and operates Greg's Market, a mini-chain of local grocery stores in three of the smallest towns in Western Kentucky: Clinton, Bardwell and LaCenter, employing a mix of 75 full and part time workers. He depends heavily on part time student workers.
Greg's Market's motto is "Where Nice Matters." All stores offer customers assistance carrying out groceries. Student baggers chat with customers as they load bags into cars and trucks.
Greg began in the grocery business at sixteen, starting out as a bag boy at his local IGA store in West Virginia. "The 6th Avenue IGA" he recalls. It was a career field that saw him through college.
He worked for IGA and Krogers in stores and a grocery distribution center. In 1993, when the opportunity came along to buy Rodney's IGA in Clinton, Godby took the leap from employee to boss. He has been in Clinton every since. He bought the Bardwell store 19 years ago and the LaCenter store four years ago. All of the stores are Greg's Markets.
Godby is proud to be named Grocer of the Year by the Kentucky Grocer's Association in 2009. A clock and plaque hangs in his office in Clinton.
Greg has hired generations of young workers. His workers grow up and move on. Some go to professional careers. He enjoys having former employees come back and tell him where they are now. "We have teachers, engineers."
Greg has watched student workers for many years. While he thinks the work ethic has changed, he continues to believe that "If you do well in this job, you will do well in your career."
There have been changes in all his stores. He is in the process of investing in the Clinton store. When all is said and done, he said that the Clinton store rehab will cost around $200,000. The other two stores have already been upgraded. Shown at right, new refrigerator and freezers line the aisles of the store. Greg has added around 200 new products in the upgrade.
The upgrades are the source of local pride. Customers stop him to thank him for the changes. Visitors from out of what he considers his service area come in and ask to be on his mailing list. On September 1st, there will be a customer appreciation meat sale. Greg's Markets have a butcher on staff who cuts meat. Wal-Mart gave up butchers several years ago.
Who is the competition? Not Wal-Mart, he said. Greg recognizes that he cannot compete with a chain that makes billions of dollars from thousands of stores. The Dollar Store next to Clinton's Greg's Market is a competitor, but its not the one he focuses on.
"Your competitor is yourself. You always have to be trying to do better."
When asked what the government does for him and to him, Godby said that "we are far away." He couldn't think of even one regulation that bothers him enough to contact Governor Bevin to get rid of. He also couldn't think of one thing that the government does for him. "We're not tied in." He said.
Small businesses like Greg's Market dot America's landscape. They expect little government help and are offered none. Economic development is something they read about in the newspapers. Greg, like many others in retail, equates economic development with factories.
Economic development may be all about the big fish landing of a mega employer manufacturing plant, but real jobs in small towns are created by real people like Greg Godby.