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Anderson Grocery in Pine Knot has remarkable past and new future
“In life, a person sometimes has to make difficult decisions,” Conny Anderson said, concerning the recent decision to sell Anderson Grocery in Pine Knot to Andrew and Michelle Shepherd. “Sometimes, the decision you are forced to make isn’t what you really want, but it is the right thing to do. At my age and without children to carry on the business, I saw this decision as something that was necessary, given the situation.”
Conny’s grandfather, Jeff Anderson, opened Anderson Grocery in its current building and present location in 1952. At the time of the store’s 1952 grand opening, Jeff had already proven his success as a businessman as he and his wife, Reba, had established a general store in the Rock Creek (Jellico) area in the 1930s. Later, in the 1940s, Jeff moved his family and the store to Pine Knot. Shortly after that move, the savvy businessman set his sights on developing a different location for the store in Pine Knot, and in 1952, constructed a new grocery store building. Once the new store building was complete, Jeff settled into the routine of operating a family owned, country store that ultimately became a three generation family legacy.
The second generation of Andersons delved into the grocery business when Jeff was elected McCreary County Judge Executive in the late 1950s. With Jeff responsible for county government, two of his children, Earl and Wilma, stepped in to assist their father with the store. In 1963, after Jeff Anderson’s death, Earl purchased the store from his other siblings (heirs), registered it under his own name, and began operating the country store. Earl, with his wife, Pearl, plunged into making the store an integral part of the community. Earl’s sister, Wilma, continued to contribute as well, becoming a familiar face at the cash register.
From 1963 until his death in 2003, Earl catered to the needs of the community. Shoppers relished pushing their shopping “buggies” or “carts” across the well-oiled wooden floors, maneuvering narrow aisles that were stocked with everything one would ever need or want: fresh meats weighed up and wrapped by the butcher, produce, groceries, farm and garden supplies, plus a host of other miscellaneous items.
Although Earl’s two children, Conny and Janice, helped with the family business as they were growing up, it was always Conny who seemed most intrigued by the family business. In 1976, after serving a stint in the Navy, Conny returned home to Pine Knot, joining his father and becoming the third generation of Andersons to take an active role in operating the Anderson Grocery.
After Earl’s passing, Conny and Janice became co-owners of the market. However, it was Conny who took the reins and kept the business alive for the next twenty years.
“Conny always felt he was carrying on the tradition of our family,” Janice explained. “He always called us a community help center because we carried credit and were always helping people. When Conny chose to work with Dad, he was the one who was working behind the scenes. Dad was the “people” person, so people often didn’t realize how hard Conny worked. He was the one who was always looking for new products, doing the inventory, and building the business. It was when Conny was working with Dad in the ‘80s and ‘90s that we saw our biggest growth. Even after Dad was gone, it was important to Conny to carry on the family tradition of maintaining the store as a community store-a store that helped the community.”
As proof of helping the community, Conny chuckled as he reminisced about the number of local homes he entered throughout his years of delivering groceries to customers who needed delivery service.
“One day, I was driving down the highway and suddenly realized how many peoples’ homes I’ve been inside as a result of delivering groceries to those who couldn’t drive or were elderly,” Conny remarked. “Back in the day, I wore out many of a pick-up truck just making those deliveries.”
For Conny, who has dedicated forty-seven years of his life to working Anderson Grocery, he sees the store as being a result of the lifelong efforts of three generations who wanted to provide service to the community.
“I hope we have been able to add to the quality of life of our patrons,” Conny shared. “I’ll miss the routine and the feeling of providing a service to our customers. Anderson Grocery lived and breathed throughout the years. It had its own personality. I’ve been reluctant to wear Dad’s laurels. I wish he was here to tell the story. The only thing I’ve done is to try and carry on the family tradition.
Despite the Anderson family’s desire and willingness to help the community through their store, both Conny and Janice are quick to give credit to the community for the store’s longstanding success.
“Somehow, through all the Walmarts, Krogers, Save-A-Lots, and other big chain businesses, this old place is still here,” Conny reflected. “It is still here due to the community’s undying dedication to a community store, an old time country store.”
Both Conny and Janice expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the community and their customers throughout the years.
“Without the support of the community and our customers, we never could have made it,” both siblings agreed.
Now, seventy-one years later, as the store goes under new ownership and a new name, both Conny and Janice can take pride in Anderson Grocery’s long record of success and its remarkable history of having survived the economic and societal upheavals of changing times. In the history of McCreary County, Anderson Grocery will always stand proudly as a testament to the dedication and hard work of multiple generations of the Anderson family.
“New owners are excited about “Pine Knot Grocery”
Andrew and Michelle Shepherd, with their three children Chesney, Brice, and Elisha, are excited to be the new owners of the historic Anderson Grocery in Pine Knot, KY.
“I’ve done retail since 1999,” Andrew Shepherd said. “I was born and bred into it.”
It has long been a dream of the Shepherds to move away from gas/convenience type stores and put their focus on owning/operating a full grocery store or market.
“When this opportunity came along, we made a deal with Conny (Anderson) and pulled the trigger,” Shepherd said. “We are now proud owners of the Pine Knot Grocery!”
Both Andrew and Michelle assured customers they are not planning to make a lot of changes.
“We plan to keep the current employees,” Michelle noted. “We are continuing with the same line of fresh meats, and we’ll still serve sandwiches. We will also continue to offer the farm supplies. Later, we plan to extend the hours, and we’re thinking about adding a greenhouse, at some point down the road. We are not going to sell alcohol.”
The couple is appreciative of the support they have received both now and with past business ventures.
“We’ve been in this county for a long time, and we thank everyone for their support in the past as well as with this new opportunity,” Andrew remarked.
The Shepherds definitely have something in common with the Anderson family, who owned and operated the grocery for so many years.
“It was the history and tradition that drew us to this grocery store,” Michelle explained. “We want to keep that history and tradition. We consider this store to be for the rest of our lives. We want to get our kids involved and continue the tradition of the store by passing its heritage along to them.”