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One-Stop Shop

Men behind LeRoy’s Food Mart
are community minded servants

Small town store offers
big service area shoppers

By Nichole Osinski
Contributing Writer

LEXINGTON, Ind. (December 2011) – It may not be Kroger or Wal-Mart, but LeRoy’s isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill mega store. Entering the food mart, a visitor can find a variety of special items. There are hog nose rings, fresh deli meat, even an occasional bluegrass performance.
Located at 7887 Main St., Lexington, Ind., LeRoy’s Food Mart is part grocery store, supply store, restaurant and part entertainment. The store is owned and run by LeRoy Williams along with his youngest son, Chuck, 38. William’s wife of 46 years, Bernice, also helps with the store and with catering.
John Sheckler, a musician who has played at LeRoy’s, considers the store a place where any item can be found.

LeRoy's Food Mart

Photo by Nichole Osinski

LeRoy’s Food Mart in
Lexington, Ind., is part grocery
store, suppy store, restaurant and
entertainment headquarters.

“I always call Leroy’s the “center of the known universe,” said Sheckler. “Because no matter what you want, there is one of that item somewhere in the store.”
Williams graduated from Charlestown High School in 1965 and started a modest career selling RC Colas. He moved on to be a supervisor at a bread company and eventually decided he would like to own his own store.
In 1978 Williams set up a convenience store in Borden, Ind., that offered amenities such as gas and groceries. In 1990 he decided to sell the business to help his brother, who sold tires.
However, Williams missed the independence of running his own business and the ability to serve the public. After two years of selling tires, he then opened what is now the current store in Lexington.
For Williams, the most important part of starting the business was making friends and building connections. He already knew he wanted to provide a variety of items and add entertainment on the weekends. Besides, he feels that it’s in his blood to be in the business.
Growing up in the store vocation, William’s sons, Chuck and Tony, were both interested in running a business. Chuck has helped run the store for about three years. Tony has his own business, the Chelsea General Store at 5975 S. State Road 62, just south of Lexington.
“We’re doing business to make a difference in the community,” said Tony. “That’s how he’s always shown me how to do it.”
LeRoy’s community involvement goes beyond just providing basic service to customers. Though Williams tries to sell a variety of products, he has concentrated on serving a wide selection of food, especially in the deli section.
He provides a home-style restaurant that seats between 80 and 85 people, and of course there’s the weekend music.
Every Saturday at 6 p.m. Williams invites people to come hear bluegrass, country or gospel. Once in awhile there are karaoke nights, and he has been known to get involved with the singing himself. According to Sheckler, Williams even wrote a song about his days working for the bread company.
This is what Williams has been known for – his love of what he does and his care for the local community. He himself explains that he enjoys getting up to open his store and taking care of the day ahead.
But like many business owners today, Williams and his son have faced a troubled economy.
“It’s not like it used to be,” said LeRoy. “It’s tougher with Wal-Marts and being an independent grocery, but you find a way to get through.”
Maintaining a store with 14 employees and trying to find ways to save money while offering quality items has been a challenge with which the Williams family has learned to deal.
They buy in bulk and maintain a good track record with the local community. While stores around them have been closing, LeRoy’s has kept its doors open. There have even been requests to see if the Williams family would take over various other stores.
The food mart’s location has been a positive aspect when confronting local demand. Many residents find the close proximity more preferable than driving a long distance to a large supply store.
Chuck is familiar with the majority of the customers and believes that about 70 percent are regulars. And it is for the customers for whom Williams works. Chuck and LeRoy make sure that when it comes to products such as deli meats, there is no excuse to skimp on quality.
Williams and his family are maintaining an optimistic attitude and making sure that they continue to stay involved in the community. Many of the customers are their friends, and LeRoy knows that running a business means maintaining a professional attitude.
With this kind of mindset there is even the possibility of adding on to the store. LeRoy has thought about adding a building for music, entertainment and parties. But ask anyone in the Williams’ family the basis for why they do this and the word “community” will be in their answer.
“We’re here for the community,” said Chuck. “We have to be ambassadors and do the best we can.”

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